Ethiopian Airlines is studying proposals from Boeing and Airbus Industrie for its fleet-renewal programme, and is expected to be ready to place an order for narrow- and widebodied aircraft before the end of the year.

"Most of the background work has been finalised. My expectation is that we will make an order within the next six to eight months and have the new aircraft in the fleet in two years," says Kahssaye Kinse, Ethiopian's division manager for fleet planning.

He says that the airline now thinks that the Boeing 777 is "too big for us" and is looking at the 767-300ER, Airbus A330-200 and A340-200. "In the smaller category, we are evaluating the Boeing 737-700 and Airbus A319/A320," he adds. The final decision will be based upon an in-depth market study.

The airline is looking at upgrading cabins with state-of-the-art in-flight-entertainment systems and is in tentative discussions with SITA over provision of satellite-communications telephones.

Ethiopian's last major jet-powered-airliner order was placed in 1989, for five Boeing 757-200s, including one freighter. The airline's jet-powered fleet includes Boeing 707, 737 and 767 types, although Kinse stresses that Airbus is in the frame for any new order.

Source: Flight International