Ethiopian Airlines is considering expanding its fleet further by ordering or leasing five more widebody aircraft by 2011, says chief executive Girma Wake. The flag carrier is in talks with Airbus and Boeing, as well as with leasing companies, he adds.

Ethiopian currently operates 17 aircraft on its international passenger routes and eight on its domestic services. Wake predicts growth for its domestic service, although it is currently a loss-making operation. “We believe tomorrow it will be our backbone when people start to come to Ethiopia for tourism.” The company’s international operations currently subsidise the domestic service, he says.

Ethiopian also plans to lease four more Boeing 767s, 777s or Airbus A330s in the next two to three years, says Wake. The carrier agreed in June to convert five options on Boeing 787s for delivery and entry into service between 2008 and 2010, taking its total of 787s to 10.

Further expansion in Africa will be important to the airline’s success, says Wake. Earlier this year Ethiopian agreed to take a 20% stake in Ghanaian flag carrier Ghana International Airlines. “To remain a dominant African carrier, we must expand in Africa,” adds Wake.

He predicts that state-owned Ethiopian will eventually be privatised. “The trend is towards privatisation in the long term, but the time is not ready for us yet.”

eTHIOPIAN 767 200905

Ethiopian Airlines could add to its complement of Boeing 767s


Source: Flight International