Ethiopian Airlines' evaluation of the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 Max is examining their performance at the airline's "hot and high" main hub in Addis Ababa.
The Star Alliance airline's chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam told Flightglobal at the Airline Business World Air Forum conference in Amsterdam that its evaluation of the two re-engined single aisles is in the early stages but "hot and high" performance is already in the spotlight, given Addis Ababa's 7,500ft (2,300m) elevation.
"The evaluation is at its very initial stages," says Gebremariam. "The manufacturers are looking at how their aircraft will perform in Addis, because the altitude at the airport is really a challenge."
Ethiopian is already a major 737NG operator with a fleet of 15 and seven more on order. It is only examining Airbus and Boeing options for its replacement. Although the airline is a Bombardier customer with the Q400, the CSeries is not in the frame, says Gebremariam.
"We are very focused on fleet commonality. Since we already have the 737, it doesn't make sense to diversify," he says.