Ethiopian Airlines has announced an order with Boeing for four 777 freighters, making it the first carrier in Africa to plan to own the type, and bringing the total the carrier will operate to six.

The order, worth $1.1 billion at list prices, was previously attributed to an unidentified customer before the announcement.

"As the largest African cargo carrier operating in some of the fastest growing trade lanes of the world - between Africa and Europe, Middle East and Asia - the new 777 Freighter fleet will significantly enhance our tonnage and range capabilities," said Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines.

In June, Ethiopian signed a lease with General Electric's GECAS division for two 777F aircraft, which are being dry leased for a period of 10 years, with deliveries expected in September and October 2012. The new freighters will replace the carrier's fleet of two 757-200 converted freighters.

Ethiopian Airlines served as the African launch customer for both the 777-200LR, which it first received in 2010, and the 787, which it expects to receive in January 2012. Ethiopian has 10 787s on order.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news