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Ethiopian’s expansion plans

by Matt Falcus

Ethiopian Airlines 757

As Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft this week – only the third airline to do so – it has outlined plans to expand its fleet and home base dramatically over the coming years.

The airline has 14 aircraft due for delivery this year, including more 787s, as well as Boeing 737-800s, Dash 8 Q400s, and Boeing 777 freighters.

Ethiopian has also announced it is considering purchasing either 737 Max or Airbus A320neo aircraft as part of its intentions to increase its fleet to 120 aircraft by 2025.

To complement these plans, Ethiopian Airlines is hoping to make its Addis Ababa Airport base a worldwide hub along the lines of those in Dubai and Doha, where passengers would arrive from one side of the world and transfer to flights heading to the other side of the world.

Ethiopian’s unique selling point is its strong coverage of emerging markets in Africa, which the Middle Eastern carriers have been slower to reach.

Whether this happens is still very much up in the air, as most consider Addis Ababa to be inferior to many Western and Middle Eastern hub airports, and Ethiopian’s existing fleet of Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft are starting to look long in the teeth.

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