Ethiopia: New Ethiopian Airlines-Boeing deal silences Airbus rumours

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An agreement reached several months ago between the Ethiopian national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, and Airbus for the supply of 12 A350 aircraft was rumoured by many analysts as the end of a longstanding partnership between the eastern African country’s national carrier and Boeing. A timely new transaction however ends months of speculations about future relations between the two companies.

According to a statement issued Thursday by Ethiopian Airlines, their CEO, Girma Wake, has signed a definitive agreement with Mr. Skip H. Thompson, Boeing’s Sales Director for Middle East and Africa. The agreement, a purchase of ten Boeing 737-800 aircraft, confirms the correlation between Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing.

The ten 737-800 aircraft will cost the Airline 767 million dollars, according to the release.

Ethiopian Airlines has since its inception, in December 1945, — when it flew DC-3 propeller-driven airplanes between Addis Ababa and Cairo, — been dedicated to Boeing. The Airlines was the first African carrier to order and operate the ultra-long-range 777-200LR Boeing aircraft model. The company is also said to be the first African carrier to order the 787 Dreamliner, ordering 10 in 2005.

Boeing 737 Next-Generation aircraft has been praised for its reliability, fuel efficiency, and economical performance. It incorporates an advanced-technology of wing design that helps increase fuel capacity and efficiency, both of which increase range.

Boeing 737-800 is the best-selling model of the successful Next-Generation 737 family.

“The new aircraft orders will enable the airline to fly one of the newest and greenest aircraft in Africa”, Girma said during the signing ceremony. The B737-800 aircraft will be used for the airlines’ “short and medium range operations in Africa and the Middle East to support the ever growing market demand,” according to the release.

Ethiopian Airlines currently has a fleet of 37 aircraft and a firm order for 45 more, including eight Q400, which will begin arriving in March 2010, five 777-200LR to be delivered from November, ten 787 slated to begin arriving from July 2011 and twelve A350 set for delivery in 2017.

The Q-400 will be used for domestic and regional services.

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