Is Ethiopian eyeing Boeing’s mothballed early B787 models?


(Posted 20th March 2015)

News are emerging from Addis Ababa that Ethiopian Airlines is apparently in talks with Boeing over the purchase of up to 6 more B787 Dreamliner aircraft. Still saddled with an ageing fleet of B767-300ER’s, some in fact fitted with blended winglets to reduce fuel burn, is it paramount for Ethiopian to progressively phase out their old workhorse aircraft which is not only expensive to operate but also created image problems as a result of aged interiors causing loss of inflight comfort.

What makes the news intriguing is the fact that Ethiopian is apparently targeting several mothballed B787’s from the early production stage which failed to meet the projected weight levels but which would be available at very short notice, should a deal be struck. It is clear that the Ethiopian Airlines’ management is seeking a compromise between the slightly higher weight compared to their other B787’s already in use but which might be compensated, in comparison to continued B767 operations, by still significant savings in fuel burn, longer range and increased uplift capacity for passengers and underfloor cargo. Additionally could Boeing of course be inclined to offer extra special financial terms should terms be agreed to offload these aircraft which presently only incur storage cost.

Ethiopian has been struggling with some image problems despite being Africa’s leading airline and the continued used of old aircraft will do little to help overcome a market perception that their service levels and to a large part their attention to passengers on the ground needs to be improved to match their acquisitions of state of the art aircraft and the ‘friendliness’ of their main competitors.

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