Ethiopia has become the second country in the world after Japan to take delivery of the innovative Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Ethiopian Airlines – Africa’s fastest growing carrier – has bought 10 of Boeing’s flagship aircraft, which are built from lightweight material, rather than aluminium, to save fuel. The plane arrived at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport from Dulles airport in Washington, DC, home to the largest Ethiopian diaspora population globally.
The airline said it is proud to be the first airline from Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East to take delivery of the Dreamliner, and to be able to offer its passengers the ultimate travel experience on board this game-changing aircraft, The Reporter website said. Ethiopia’s national flag carrier is the third airline in the world to own the Dreamliner next to All Nippon Airways (ANA) and the state owned Japan Airlines.
Each Dreamliner has an official list price of $207 million, although airlines rarely pay such figures, especially for bulk orders.
“As a continent this shows how much we are making progress… competing on the global stage and changing our image,” Ethiopian Airline CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters. Transport Minister Deriba Kuma said the delivery of the 787 was especially significant given the financially strained climate. Growing 20 to 30% a year for the past seven years, the airlines’ strategic plan is to carry 18 million passengers a year by 2025.
Tewolde GebreMariam says his company is cashing in on Ethiopia’s double-digits economic growth and its strategic location. But the company’s future success depends on its ability to deal with Africa-specific pressures. Aviation infrastructure on the continent is lagging behind the rest of the world, and the lack of qualified pilots and technicians means airlines need to invest millions in education and training.
Ethiopian Airlines serves 69 international destinations. It is expected to operate the new aircraft on routes throughout Africa and Europe, including Accra, Lagos, and Rome.