Undeterred by the various issues that have hit its Boeing 787 fleet, Ethiopian Airlines says it is happy with the performance of the aircraft and plans to acquire more of the type.
Its chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam says the carrier could add 15 more 787-8s to its fleet, and use the aircraft on long-haul routes to Asian destinations. Ethiopian has taken delivery of five 787s and has another eight aircraft on order.
"The airplane went through challenges in the early stage. Any new technology will take some time to mature. But now it's doing very well with a dispatch reliability of about 95%. It's a very good aircraft and we're using them about 14 hours a day," says Gebremariam. He was speaking to Flightglobal Pro in Singapore, where the carrier launched thrice weekly services from Addis Ababa.
Gebremariam adds that repair work on the composite fuselage of the 787 badly damage in a fire this July while parked at London Heathrow is ongoing, and the aircraft should be put back into service by the end of December. With the 787 grounded for months, the carrier has had to lease a Boeing 767 as replacement.
Besides the 787s, Ethiopian is also evaluating its narrowbody fleet plans. Gebremariam says the carrier needs around 20 new narrowbodies and is studying the Boeing 737 Max, Airbus A320neo and also the Bombardier CSeries and Embraer E-Jets.
"We should make a decision by next year," he adds.
As part of its long-term plan, Ethiopian Airlines is targeting to grow its fleet to more than 120 aircraft by 2025.
Flightglobal Pro data shows that the carrier has 63 aircraft in its fleet including 787s, 777s and 737s. It also has 30 aircraft – 12 Airbus A350-900s, eight 787-8s, six Boeing 777s and four 737s – on order.