By Sanday Chongo Kabange
(ABN) HONG KONG – Ethiopian Airlines has ordered an additional 777-200LR aircraft valued at US$276 million from Boeing, bringing the number of similar planes to six.
The Addis Abba-headquartered carrier is to add an additional aircraft to its fleet, less than two months after two plane crashes in Ghana and Nigeria notched up the question of aviation safety in Africa.
The 777 is Boeing’s second-biggest plane, with 321 seats as flown by Ethiopian Airlines, which already has five of them.
“The 777-200LR has been a fantastic airplane for Ethiopian Airlines,” Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines chief executive said in a news release. “This additional airplane will let us take full advantage of the performance and economics of this great airplane.”
The 777-200LR carries more passengers and more revenue cargo farther than any other jetliner and is capable of connecting virtually any two cities in the world nonstop, Boeing said on its website.
“Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines have been partners for more than 65 years and we’ve seen the airline grow to become a leader in African aviation and beyond,” said Van Rex Gallard, vice president of Sales for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The airline continues to invest in its fleet to grow the airline, increase profitability and provide the best products in the sky for their valued customers.”
Ethiopian Airlines was the first African airline to operate the 777-200LR, the first to order the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with an order for 10 and the first to order the 777 Freighter.
The airline currently operates an all-Boeing fleet of 737, 757, 767 and 777 airplanes in passenger service and a 757, MD11 and 747 in cargo operations.
The Ethiopian carrier is one of Africa’s largest carriers, competing with South African Airways and Kenyan Airways.
A limited number of African carriers are allowed to fly into the European Union and United States over “safety concerns”.
It is expected that the new order by Ethiopian Airlines will some how simmer safety concerns that keep denting Africa’s airline industry.