The kings of the African Aviation jungle Ethiopian Airlines is set to expand its lead in the African market with plans for new aircraft to meet rising travel demand. This comes barely five months after placing orders for 25 Boeing 737 MAX 8.

The Star Alliance airline expects passenger numbers to surpass 2019 levels during the year ending in June 2023, group CEO Mesfin Tasew Bekele said at a luncheon in Washington, D.C, on September 2. With passenger recovery in sight, the airline plans to restart an aircraft order campaign for a roughly 100-seat plane that was paused in early 2020 when the pandemic hit.

The aircraft, which Bekele said will be either the Airbus A220-100 or Embraer E195-E2, are needed for Ethiopian’s traffic growth forecasts. “We are going to finalize our evaluation” of a 100-seat aircraft, he said. Bekele hinted that the A220 “best fits Ethiopian Airlines’ market,” and that Airbus had provided the best commercial terms.


There are only a handful of A220s in service across the African continent. Photo: Airbus

The dominance of the 100-seat aircraft

An A220 order from Ethiopian would further expand the plane’s growing dominance of the 100-seat aircraft market. Characterized by its small size and low costs, it was one of the most flown aircraft flown during the pandemic for cargo and repatriation flights. Since the crisis subsided, it opened up a barrel of orders for the planemaker.

The main operators of the A220 include Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways, and there are orders from new customers including ITA Airways and Qantas. If Ethiopian orders the A220, it will join the likes of Air Tanzania and Egypt Air operating the jet in African airspace.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8

Ethiopian is the biggest user of the MAX in Africa at present. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The A220 would sit comfortably between Ethiopian’s Dash 8-400s with 78 seats and its Boeing 737-800s with at least 154 seats. Bekele said that the airline plans to retire its 9 737-700s that seat 118 passengers in the next few years.

Bullish projection on the recovery of Ethiopia after the pandemic.

Passenger “traffic is doing well, and it’s growing,” Bekele noted. During Ethiopia’s fiscal year that ended in June, passenger numbers hit 82 % of 2019 levels, or 8.7 million travelers. That percentage was slightly better than the past forecasts for the period by airline executives.

For the eight months ending in February, Ethiopian carried 7 % fewer passengers on 2 % more seats on its flights to the US than in the same period ending in February 2020, according to the latest Department of Transportation data.

ethiopian airlines 737 MAX

Passengers are slowly but surely returning to Ethiopian. Photo: Getty Images

Ethiopian and other carriers are also benefiting from other African airlines’ challenges. Kenya Airways and South African Airways faced predicaments during the crisis causing a forced shutdown for a period of 18 months. Air France, Delta, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines have all used the opportunity to expand to Africa with new flights and routes compared to 2019, as portrayed in the latest schedules data.

Expansion and new routes

Ethiopian continues to grow out of the crisis, and not just in Addis. In June, it launched new flights between Washington Dulles and Lomé, Togo, where its affiliate Asky Airlines is based. The airline plans to increase the number of flights on that route to five-times weekly by year-end from thrice weekly today, and to daily in 2023, Bekele said.


New routes have appeared as Ethiopian flies out of the crisis. Photo: via Queen Alia International Airport (Amman).

In addition, Ethiopian is considering a new US service to Atlanta and a resumption of flights to Houston Intercontinental that it flew for just six months before they were suspended in May 2020. While did not provide a timeline for a potential Atlanta or Houston launch, he did comment,

“We would like to open up more destinations — providing more connectivity with the United States [and] Africa.”

The US is not the only place where Ethiopian is expanding. The airline began thrice-weekly flights between Addis Ababa and Amman, Jordan, on September 19. It also added Chennai and Dubai’s Al Maktoum airport to its map earlier this year, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.


Napsat komentář

Vaše e-mailová adresa nebude zveřejněna.

You May Also Like

Airbus Helicopters Posts Strong Medevac Order Intake

Airbus Helicopters announced continuing strong sales into the U.S. medical market at…

The Complex Art of Aircraft Utilization

DALLAS – Aircraft are the most important and valuable assets of an…

Why Don’t Planes Use Reverse Thrust To Push Back?

When a plane departs an airport, its first movement will be to…

Quiz: 6 Questions To See How Well You Know Aircraft Systems

How’s your systems knowledge? 1) You’re performing an engine run-up before takeoff.…