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An Ethiopian 737-800 in Nairobi (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Parker Davis)

Ethiopian Introduces Global COVID-19 Insurance

Ethiopian Airlines Group has introduced a global COVID-19 medical insurance scheme dubbed “Sheba Comfort” aimed at providing “an extra security measure” to all of its international passengers while ensuring they travel with a peace of mind.

Sheba Comfort will cover all international flights booked through Ethiopian tickets, covering medical expenses, repatriation, evacuation and quarantine costs. In collaboration with AXA Partners and Awash Insurance Company, the insurance cover will be valid for 92 days for a round trip and 31 days for a one-way trip beginning as from Oct. 1 and running until March 31, 2021.

Passengers will have their medical expenses up to a total of 100,000 euros ($117,000) covered if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travel, in addition to quarantine costs up to 150 euros per day for a maximum of 14 days.

“We are glad to be among the pioneer global airlines to introduce this extra security measure and provide global cover for COVID-19 with a view to boosting passengers’ confidence,” said the airline’s group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam in a statement. “Our Sheba Comfort insurance scheme is part of the measures we have been taking to ensure the health and wellbeing of passengers on the ground and onboard. As travel safety continues to evolve by the day, we will always be at the forefront of adopting all necessary changes to ensure the safety of our passengers is our top priority.”

Airlines around the globe have started introducing new measures to help restart travel and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus with American Airlines being the latest airline to introduce pre-flight COVID-19 testing for customers traveling to international destinations.

Ethiopian Airlines Group has shown its relentlessness amidst the global pandemic in a time when most aviation groups are struggling to stay airborne. The airline recently opened a new terminal at its Bole International Airport hub in Addis Ababa.

From still registering profits even in time of the global pandemic to being one of the leaders in Africa in delivering medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPEs) worldwide, Ethiopian has found a number of ways to navigate the COVID-19 crisis with its cargo business becoming instrumental towards its success.

The airline has also taken the delivery of a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that arrived yesterday in Addis Ababa carrying a humanitarian shipment donated by the Ethiopian community and a Seattle COVID-19 task force in collaboration with Ethiopian and Boeing.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian has said it may provide planes, pilots and maintenance services to the troubled South African Airways as part of a joint venture with the South African government. The airline said it is uninterested in helping with debt repayments or the cost of reducing the workforce.

This comes after Ethiopian has continued to express interest in helping the ailing airline through its turbulences.

“We don’t want to deal with the legacy issues — the debt, labor claims and so on because that is very difficult for us not only in terms of financial outlay but also in terms of managing the restructuring. We want to make it very easy for them to start the airline by providing airplanes, by providing expertise, pilots, technicians, leadership,” said the CEO.

Ethiopian could provide more modern Airbus A350 XWBs and Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which are more fuel-efficient aircraft compared to the South African’s Airbus A340s. Tewolde also echoed that African governments should be more aggressive in reopening borders following months of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, noting that Ethiopian flights are on average 40% full.

Victor Shalton
Victor Shalton
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