Ethiopian Airlines' early Boeing 787s are showing slightly better fuel efficiency than expected and initial teething problems have been overcome, but range is short of original promises.
"Fuel efficiency is one part of the performance, and that is better than we'd expected," says Ethiopian chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam. "The range is not as much as we expected, this is slightly because of the weight. We are still discussing [if this can be improved]."
Speaking to Flightglobal at the Airline Business World Air Forum conference in Amsterdam, Gebremariam said that he was confident the delivery schedule was now robust. "We've just received our third aircraft and our fourth comes before December. We will get our fifth in March and our remaining five in 2014."
"There were some technical problems at the beginning but now it is improving, so overall we are very happy," Gebremariam says. "There were some small pilot write-ups - initially on the engine."
Ethiopian's 787s are powered by General Electric GEnx engines, and although the airline has not been affected by the midshaft crack issue it has made one engine change. "There was an oil leak and we changed one engine."
The Star Alliance carrier received its first 787-8 in August and is initially using the twinjet on daily services from its Addis Ababa base to Washington DC. Gebremariam says that as the fleet expands Frankfurt and possibly Guangzhou will join its 787 network - replacing a 767 - as well as some African destinations.