Africa First – Ethiopian’s first 787

Ethiopian 787-8

This morning, Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first 787-8, which flew from Paine Field to Washington D.C.’s Dulles Airport, and which will commence a special revenue flight to Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport later today. Ethiopian’s flights between Addis and Dulles are usually handled by the 777-200LR – Ethiopian uses a fleet of five of them on longer range routes.

The national carrier of Ethiopia is the first non-Japanese carrier to take delivery of a 787, which has now been in service since last September with All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines. With only one delivered thus far, Ethiopian will be taking the aircraft on a tour of African and Middle Eastern destinations this month including Abuja, Accra, Entebbe, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Lagos, Luanda, Maputo, Nairobi, and as far afield as Mumbai. After a second 787 is delivered in late August/early September, the 787 is expected to supplant the 777-200LR on the Addis-Dulles route.

Though the 787 is a major step for Ethiopian, it is only part of a strategy of considerable expansion – and one that focuses as much on cargo as on passenger service. Starting this fall and continuing over the next couple of years, Ethiopian will take delivery of six 777-200Fs, two of them leased from GECAS. Though some of these will likely supplant the carrier’s current MD-11Fs, this is still a major expansion of main-deck capacity. The carrier also has a pair of 757-200 freighters, one built new, one converted by Precision Conversions, for regional work. Ethiopian is also a customer for the Airbus A350-900 – having ordered 12 of them – a substantial increase in belly capacity.

Delivered today, Ethiopian’s first 787, ET-AOQ (msn: 34745) is seen crossing over the “piano keys” at Paine Field on pre-delivery customer acceptance flight. The aircraft will be named “Africa First.”

© Photographer: Alex Kwanten

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