Ethiopian Airlines plans to deploy most of its incoming Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s on routes to China.

"We have more than 60 aeroplanes on order," said the airline's chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam at the World Routes event in Guangzhou today. "Most of the widebodies – A350s and 787s… will be deployed here in China."

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows Ethiopian has nine A350-900s in service and 15 on order. It has 18 787-8s and four 787-9s in service with no outstanding orders. Earlier this year, however, Gebremariam suggested the carrier was likely to place another 787 order soon.

He cites the Guanzhou market as an example of how a long-term investment in the country is paying off for the Addis Ababa-based carrier.

"We started flying to Guangzhou 16 years ago," he states. "We were flying with 20 passengers, 30 passengers [per flight], a very low load factor.

"Now the investment is paying back and we are growing. [We currently have] 10 passenger flights to Guangzhou and five cargo flights [per week]."

That growing demand – increasingly driven by China’s “trade and investment links” with Africa – means Ethiopian is now seeking to add capacity to Guangzhou.

"The demand is growing very fast – faster than the capacity," Gebremariam says. "So now we are working with the provincial government to support us to get more flights."

FlightGlobal schedules data shows that in September, Ethiopian is serving Guangzhou with 10 flights a week, and Beijing and Shanghai with daily flights. It is also serving Chengdu 13 times during the month.

Source: Cirium Dashboard