Ethiopian Airlines receives fifth Boeing 777-200LR

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Ethiopian Airlines has received its fifth and final new Boeing 777-200LR, which arrived at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport late last week.

The aircraft arrived on July 22, flying at full capacity from Seattle with a stopover in Paris, the airline announced.

Ethiopian Airlines has named its five 777-200LRs after African land marks highlighting its theme of “The New Spirit of Africa”. The fifth 777 has been named ‘The Sahara,’ while the first was named ‘The Blue Nile’, the second ‘Rift Valley’, the third ‘Victoria Falls’, and the fourth ‘Mount Kilimanjaro’.
“We are satisfied with the performance of the 777-200LRs. Our customers like it, our pilots like it. It is a very good airplane. With this airplane, we are able to cut travel time of our US and Beijing routes by two to three hours,” said Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, when he received the new aircraft at Bole International Airport.

Ethiopian Airlines will also operate a freighter version of the 777 as part of its fleet expansion project and to handle an increasing volume of cargo. In May the airline announced it will lease two 777 freighters from GE Capital Aviation Services. The ten year lease agreement will come into effect when the 777Fs arrive from Boeing in September and October next year.

Ethiopian needs to cater to a growing demand for cargo transport as the amount of cargo it handles has grown from 42 000 tonnes to 110 000 tonnes over the last five years. In March the carrier said it would double capacity at its Bole International Airport cargo hub, according to Air Cargo News. Ethiopian said that cargo makes up approximately 15% of its business.

Furthermore, the airline is waiting to take delivery of the often-delayed 787 Dreamliner. Ethiopian was the first African airline to order the 787 when it did so in February 2005 and has ten on order. It expects the first two Dreamliners to arrive in January next year.

Ethiopian has around 40 aircraft on its order book, including 12 Airbus A350s and ten Boeing 737s. The airline currently operates eleven 767-300s, with eight of the type slated for retirement by 2016. It also operates eight 757-200ERs, five 737-700s, five 737-800s and eight Bombardier Q400s.

Ethiopian Airlines initiated an extensive fleet renewal project early in the millennium, something which is improving the safety and reliability of the carrier. Many African airlines have had operations disrupted due to safety concerns – the European Union on April 20 banned 269 carriers from 23 countries from flying in European airspace, citing safety concerns. Of these, 151 carriers are from 15 African nations.

The airline has ambitious expansion plans and is getting ready to open a new hub in Zambia.