While speaking to Xinhua news agency, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, said China’s large geographical size has meant it’s not always convenient for Chinese wanting to travel to African countries to process their visa applications in Beijing.
Gebremariam said the carrier had the largest air network for an African airlines in China, currently travelling to five Chinese destinations, helping Chinese and foreign nations living in various corners of China to directly travel to Ethiopia and beyond without the need to transit in Beijing.
Ethiopian Airlines currently has daily passenger flights from Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Guangzhou and Beijing and three times a week passenger flights to Chengdu as well as daily passenger and cargo flights to Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The airline is also planning to start passenger flights to Shenzhen and cargo flights to Zhengzhou in the coming few months.
“The plan is to have a visa hub in Addis Ababa, where Chinese visitors can directly travel from our five Chinese destinations to Addis Ababa and be able to apply for visas of 35 African countries through their embassies in Ethiopia,” Gebremariam said.
He further said 35 African governments have reached agreement with Ethiopian government on the visa scheme, which intends to boost Chinese investment prospects in Africa.
“Most African countries’ embassies are located in Beijing, but China is a big country and some Chinese may not be able to come to Beijing to apply for visas in countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia or Nigeria,” Gebremariam said.
“The visa scheme will facilitate easier air travel for Chinese experts and business people and reduces their financial cost. We believe the visa scheme will significantly boost China-Africa trade ties and we are very excited about it,” he further said.