Ethiopian Airlines took delivery on Tuesday of its – and Africa’s – first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, at the US planemaker’s main base at Seattle, in Washington state, in the US. The airline has a further nine 787s on order.
“Today begins the first day in a new era of flying for our passengers and brings us even closer to our vision for the future, Vision 2025,” enthused Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam. “We are pleased to be the first airline in the world outside Japan to receive this technologically advanced aircraft. We have been waiting for this airplane and now that we officially have it and will show it to the world, I can say with pride, it was worth the wait. This airplane is going to move Ethiopian Airlines to the forefront of aviation leadership around the globe.”
The new aircraft will now be displayed at Washington DC. Thereafter, the 787 will make its first revenue flight from Dulles International Airport, the US capital’s main airport, to Bole Addis Ababa International Airport in Ethiopia. This aircraft is a 787-8 version, which typically carries 240 passengers.
“Today marks not just another milestone for Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines, but a new beginning in our 65-year partnership,” stressed Boeing VP: sales (Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean) Van Rex Gallard. “Ethiopian Airlines continues to show their strong leadership in African aviation and their growing presence around the globe. Being the first in Africa and one of the first in the world further confirms their position globally.”
The new-generation 787 has an airframe that is predominantly made from composites, which account for 50% of the aircraft by weight. This makes the aeroplane significantly lighter than previous airliners in the same size category, thereby reducing fuel expenditure and thus costs.
Three other African airlines have so far ordered the 787. They are Arik Air, with an order for seven, Kenya Airways (nine) and Royal Air Maroc (four), for an African total to date of 30 (including the one now delivered to Ethiopian Airlines). Worldwide (including Africa), 859 Dreamliners are on order from 58 operators.
Ethiopian Airlines currently operates an all-Boeing fleet. Apart from the new 787, this is composed of Boeing 737, 757, 767 and 777 airliners and 747, 757 and MD11 (now a Boeing product) freighters.