Ethiopian aircraft orders sign of growth plan

The aircraft orders by Ethiopian Airlines at the Dubai Airshow give a glimpse of the carrier’s growth plans, anchored around a two-pronged strategy to consolidate its position as Africa’s biggest airline.

Weighed against actions by Emirates and other airlines at the airshow, the orders of new planes reflect the race to make the most of the post-Covid-19 pandemic market and the rush to migrate to more efficient fleets as the industry braces for deep cuts in emissions starting 2035.

Ethiopian and Boeing made news yesterday, when they announced an agreement for the purchase of 67 aircraft, comprising 36 firm orders and 41 options across the 737 and 787 families. The carrier also signed an MoU with Airbus for the purchase of 11 additional A350-900, which will take the European airplane makers portfolio at Ethiopian to 35 aircraft.

Combined, the orders in Dubai will grow the fleet to 222 aircraft over the next eight years, leaving a deficit of just 49 units short of the 271 aircraft it intends to have in operation by 2035.

Speaking to Times Aerospace ahead of the airshow, Ethiopian’s chief executive Mesfin Tasew outlined the carrier’s Vision 2035 growth strategy, under which the airline plans to expand its network from the current 134 destinations to 209.

Mr Tasew says they will need 271 aircraft with the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, making the core of the widebody fleet while the 737 Max and the Bombardier Q400 plug the lower end of the fleet.

Its current fleet of 144 aircraft is made up of 32 Bombardier Q400s, 29 Boeing B787s, 19 B777s, 43 B737s, one B767 and 20 Airbus A350s. Undelivered aircraft include four Airbus A350-1000s, 17 Boeing B737 MAX8s and five B777Fs. — The East African.

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