The rise of Ethiopian Airlines to become Africa’s first global carrier seems unstoppable, as sources from Addis Ababa have suggested that the carrier is currently putting final touches on an internal study of which aircraft type to select when making their next order for more wide bodies.
More recently did the airline show how smartly they operated when ordering six additional Boeing B787-8’s, which Boeing had mothballed. Produced at the very early stages were several aircraft, reportedly as many as nine, judged to be over the projected minimum weight by a minor margin. Given the massive delivery delays Boeing suffered with this aircraft was it apparently found appropriate to rather mothball them and make adjustments in production techniques rather than adding more woes should airlines refuse to take delivery over weight arguments.
Almost unsellable therefore did Ethiopian step into the picture and negotiated a super deal with Boeing to take six of these birds off the manufacturer’s hands, and while now saddled with a slightly higher aircraft weight, reducing the payload in equal terms, will the operating benefits, i.e. lower fuel burn and of course instant availability, very likely outweigh these factors. Ethiopian is keen to offload their remaining, and very aged, Boeing 767’s from the fleet but needed extra wide bodies aircraft to on one side continue with their rollout of new destinations and gradually replace the B767’s from service.
The decision is now drawing closer, it is understood, that Ethiopian is weighing the Boeing B777X against the Airbus A350-1000 and given ET’s long alignment with Boeing do the Americans have a slightly upper hand in this contest.
Airbus is now racing towards the delivery of the first of 14 firm orders of the A350-900 which Ethiopian has, against the trend, ordered from the European manufacturer and which are due for delivery starting next year.
The source further suggested that the additional order, to be announced at an opportune moment as early as end of this year or early next year, may involve as many as 20 aircraft, a big enough number to have both rivals pull out all stops to have Ethiopian sign on the dotted line.
With another handsome profit of some 173 million US Dollars made last year is Ethiopian certainly in a position to make such extra orders, and find the finance for the deal, allowing them to put even more air between themselves as Africa’s most successful airline and their continental rivals, the next three all having suffered major losses in 2014/15.