April 24, 2020: Effective April 26, Ethiopian Airlines will be operating its B777-300 passenger freighter from Hyderabad, India. As of now, it will be a weekly flight and the frequency is expected to go up to two in the near future. Both cabin and belly will be used to carry the pharma shipments which accounts to a total of 70 tonnes.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Ethiopian Airlines has been flying cargo-only passenger aircraft and freighters around the world carrying essentials supplies. The first flight using a B777F took off on March 22 from Guangzhou, China to Addis Ababa carried 108 tonnes, which included 1.1 million testing kits, 6 million masks, face shields, and 60,000 protective suits.

Recently, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has selected Addis Ababa as a humanitarian shipment hub for Africa to distribute medical supplies with Ethiopian Cargo. The hub is part of a UN initiative move to scale up procurement and distribution of protective equipment and medical supplies for the Covid-19 response.

On the other hand, the Kenyan government has inked a deal with Ethiopian Airlines to operate passenger planes grounded due to the coronavirus for shipment of cargo between the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Nairobi to Europe and Asia. The deal allows Ethiopian Airlines to fly cargo using six of its passenger planes from Mombasa to Nairobi and Asia and Europe, posing a threat to the Kenya Airways (KQ) cargo business. Ethiopian Airlines is expected to ship fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and meat which are currently scarce in Europe.

At the recently concluded webinar by Logistics Update Africa on ‘Delivering cargo in the times of continental contagion: From essential supplies to critical medicines’, Fitsum Abadi, MD, Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services said, “Cargo is getting enough attention in the organisation now. We are following diversified business strategy by working on cargo as well as on the MRO side. We are operating 12 full freighter aircraft, including 10 B777s and 2 B737-800s, in addition to passenger aircraft. All these aircraft operate 19 hours a day and enough resources are being deployed to handle the requirements on the ground on 24x7 basis.”

In the month of March, Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services transported a total uplift of over 45,848 tonnes of cargo to different parts of the world deploying both its freighters and passenger fleet. The shipments include pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and healthcare products carried with 86 charter flights using B777Fs, each with a capacity of 100 tonnes, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to the current situation, Ethiopian Cargo has extended its reach to 74 destinations globally and caters to charter flight needs anywhere in the world.

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