Ethiopian Airlines now operating four 787s from Addis Ababa

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam (center) in front of Boeing 767-300ER and 787. By Kurt Hofmann

Ethiopian Airlines, which is now operating four Boeing 787s, remains on track for aggressive growth over the next several years.

The carrier operates the four 787s from its base at Addis Ababa Bole Airport to Frankfurt, Washington Dulles, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Harare and Lusaka.

The Dreamliners have experienced some minor technical problems in the nearly four months the airline has been operating the type, but the aircraft are “working fine,” CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told ATW in Shenzhen.

Altitude restrictions at the Addis Ababa Bole Airport do not allow nonstop Boeing 787 services to Washington Dulles; a technical landing in Rome remains necessary.

Gebremariam said the 787 “is changing the image of the country and the continent, especially as we were the third 787 customer worldwide. Ethiopian Airlines was always a technological leader in Africa.”

He detailed the carrier’s aggressive growth plan: “In 2012, we added 14 aircraft and the year before 13 aircraft. The next year [2013], an additional 13 aircraft [are set to be delivered], including several 737s, one 787, one 777-200LR and two 777-300ERs.”

Ethiopian Airlines aims to grow from 55 aircraft currently to 120 by 2025. “I’m expecting a growth rate of 20%-30% annually” for the foreseeable future, Gebremariam said.