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Ethiopian Airlines sticks to B787 order


Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed it will take delivery of all ten B787s scheduled for delivery between Jul-2010 and 2013 (subject to revision by Boeing), and it is considering purchasing more Boeing or Airbus widebodies from 2014, to meet its medium-term growth targets. An order could be placed as early as next year.

Ethiopian was one of the first airlines to order B787s and is reportedly planning to fund the order through internal cash flows after a financing arrangement reportedly fell through.

The airline also plans to increase its domestic network and service quality with the addition of eight new Bombardiar Q-400s from Mar-2010 to replace ageing Fokker regional jets. The new aircraft will be deployed on services from Addis Ababa to Humera, Metema, Warder, Shilabo Mizan, Teferi, Jinka, Warder, Denbi- dolo, Semera and Dessie. The carrier has also hinted at ordering four more Q-400s, with an order likely to be made in 2010.

Expanding network, ambitious revenue and tourism targets

The airline added one leased B737-800W and one B757-200 to its fleet in early Jun-2009 to add frequencies this Summer on key routes to Harare, Douala, Abuja and N’djamena. The carrier is also planning to increase frequencies with widebody equipment to Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Guangzhou this Summer.

Earlier in 2009, the airline cut weekly frequencies to the US from six to four and to China from 14 to 12, in response to slowing demand. But 33 of Ethiopian’s 53 destinations are within Africa, which has not been hit as hard by the global economic crisis.

The airline has set an ambitious target of 6% revenue growth this year, to USD1 billion. This reflects the Ethiopian Government’s efforts to grow its tourism industry and exports. Tourism accounts for approximately 2.5% of Ethiopia's GDP, with the government hoping to attract 1 million foreign visitors p/a by 2010, quadrupling the 2008 figure.

On 02-Jun-2009, the carrier launched three times weekly service to Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) with a mix of B767-300 and B757-200 aircraft. Ethiopian also launched three times weekly service to Riyadh on 02-Jun-2009 with a mix of B737-800 and B737-700 aircraft.

As part of its preparation for membership of the Star Alliance, Ethiopian has also signed codeshare agreements with Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and United Airlines.

Investment in training

Ethiopian Airlines and IATA meanwhile signed an agreement in Jun-2009 to make the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy an authorised IATA training centre. This will give the Academy the opportunity to host standardised IATA aviation courses to regional aviation communities. Ethiopian Airlines established its own training centre in 1957.

Ethiopian is also working to upgrade its pilot training institution at a cost of USD45 million with the support of loans from a French bank.

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