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Dubai 09: Ethiopian reaffirms 787, outlines plans for A350s

Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Girma Wake has reaffirmed his airline's commitment to the Boeing 787 and outlined the carrier's plans for its newly purchased Airbus A350 XWBs.

Ethiopian Airlines, Wake says, remains the African launch customer for the 787. He says the first of 10 will be delivered in mid-2011. "We are taking all of the airplanes that we have ordered," says Wake.

Ethiopian initially expected its first 787 in 2008.

Wake also revealed that two of the 10 aircraft on order would be the larger 787-9 variant, for delivery "sometime in 2013".

Ethiopian Airlines 787 Boeing
 © Boeing

Ethiopian plans to deploy the aircraft on its African and European routes to replace ageing Boeing 757s and 767s. Despite the prospect of the airline's early 787-8s being overweight, Wake remains bullish on the prospects of the composite 787.

"We are not very happy that it is overweight," says Wake. "But even considering the fact that it is overweight, we believe that for our mid-range routes, it is still a very attractive airplane for routes like Europe to Africa [and] within Africa. And if we can leave the Far East and the American operation to the 777 and the A350, the 787 will definitely be a very good replacement for us on 767 and 757 routes. It will still be a lot better."

Wake also outlined plans to deploy the first of 12 Airbus A350-900s, the first of which is due in 2017, but entertained the idea of dry-leasing additional A350s ahead of the first formal delivery.

"We have plans to dry-lease some A350s before that if we see that demand is picking up. New sectors that will come up gradually will be Brazil-São Paulo and more points in the USA. We want to fly to Canada and we want to expand to more points in the Far East such as Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur," Wake says.

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