Walter Muchinguri Assistant Business Editor
ETHIOPIAN Airlines will today unveil its latest acquisition, the Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner in Harare, the first of its kind in Africa. The 389-seater aircraft is set to touch down at Harare International Airport around 12.30pm from Addis Ababa and will be on the ground for approximately an hour
before taking off for Lusaka, Zambia, en route to Addis Ababa.
The event is part of a programme by Ethiopian Airlines to unveil its new family member in its source markets in Africa.
An airline official said on Friday that the Dreamliner, dubbed “Africa’s First”, will be deployed on its African routes
“As I mentioned earlier, we ordered 10 of these planes, but we will deploy this one primarily on our routes here in Africa,” the official said.
The plane is one of 10 Dreamliners ordered by Ethiopian Airlines.
Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first Dreamliner on Tuesday last week and became the only other country in the world, besides Japan, to operate the Dreamliner.
An additional four Dreamliners are expected to be delivered to the airline before the end of the year.
The Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
It seats 265 passengers in economy class and 24 in business class. It is Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airliner and the world’s first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction.
According to Boeing, the 787 consumes 20 percent less fuel than the similarly-sized 767.
Its distinguishing features include a four-panel windshield, noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles, and a smoother nose contour.
It is the most technologically advanced commercial aircraft in the world and offers passengers enhanced on-board comfort, significantly reduced noise, higher level of humidity and boasts the biggest windows ever and a unique lighting system.
The airline’s chief executive, Mr Tewolde Gebremariam, who travelled to Washington to take delivery of the aeroplane, said the new aircraft would set Ethiopian Airlines above the rest.
“The addition of the Boeing 787 to our fleet will enable us to provide unparalleled level of on-board comfort to our valued customers in Africa and beyond.
“We are proud to be the first airline in the world, outside Japan, to receive this ultra-modern aircraft. It is a continuation of our pioneering role in African aviation and a testimony of the solid partnership we have forged with Boeing over many decades,” he said.
Ethiopian Airlines is one of only two African airlines together with Kenya Airways to have made concrete orders for the Dreamliner.
Kenya Airways expects to take delivery of the first of its nine aeroplanes in the first quarter of 2014.
Boeing is presently producing the 787 Dreamliner at the rate of two-and-a-half per month.
In December last year, Kenya Airways made history by being one of the two countries to have been on the Dreamliner’s world tour’s itinerary after the giant aircraft landed in Kenya.
Ethiopian Airlines is one of the fastest growing airlines in Africa, having made its maiden international flight to Cairo in 1946. It now services 69 international destinations, spanning four continents.