ADDIS ABABA, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia's national flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, on Friday said it is celebrating the 50th year of the commencement of its service to China.
The airline said in a statement that it made its first flight to China through Shanghai on Feb. 21, 1973. Noting that it was the first African carrier to fly to China, Ethiopian Airlines said it has been connecting the Asian country with the whole of Africa for half a century now.
Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mesfin Tasew hailed the milestone as an important moment in Africa-China relations. "The beginning of flights to China 50 years ago heralded an important milestone in the history of the airline. Ethiopian (Airlines) was among the first to serve China and has ever since been providing reliable services to the country," the statement quoted Tasew as saying.
"As China is one of the key destinations in Asia, we will maintain our commitment to serve the country, thereby providing access for the Chinese people to the big African market," he said.
Noting that the China-Africa relationship is projected to grow significantly in the coming years, the CEO said Ethiopian Airlines continues to serve the needs of the traveling public by availing the best connections to Africa and beyond, using its ultramodern aircraft.
"We will continue to be a bridge connecting China with African nations," Tasew said.
Ethiopian Airlines has been offering uninterrupted service to destinations in China even during the COVID-19 pandemic although the frequency of its passenger flights was restricted.
"Ultimately the flights will get back to the pre-COVID-19 levels soon with daily flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as well as ten and four weekly flights to Guangzhou and Chengdu respectively," the airline said.
When the services are fully restored, the Ethiopian flag carrier will operate a total of 35 weekly passenger flights to China.
In addition to its passenger flights, the airline is also operating 31 cargo flights per week to nine destinations in China.