When it comes to the number of passengers handled, as well as overall fleet size, Ethiopian Airlines is the largest carrier in Africa. The Star Alliance member has nearly 130 aircraft in its fleet, with more on the way. This massive fleet is also fairly diverse, with a decent mix of widebodies and narrowbodies. Let’s take a look at how Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet is composed in 2021.
The Ethiopian fleet at a glance
The following list summarizes the carrier’s fleet composition as it currently stands according to ch-aviation.com, with quantities shown in parentheses.
- Airbus A350-900 (16)
- Boeing 737-700* (4)
- Boeing 737-800 (16)
- Boeing 737-800F (3)
- Boeing 737 MAX 8* (4)
- Boeing 767-300ER* (4)
- Boeing 777-200LR (6)
- Boeing 777-300ER (4)
- Boeing 777-200F (9)
- Boeing 787-8 (19)
- Boeing 787-9 (8)
- De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 (26)
*There are a few quirks and points of interest with some of these aircraft that are worth noting:
- When it comes to the 737-700, Ethiopian Airlines technically has three more. However, the jets are out on lease, with one operating for Malawian Airlines and two for Asky Airlines.
- The 737 MAX 8 is still technically part of the Ethiopian Airlines fleet, although it is currently not active. We will discuss this further in the article below.
- One 767-300ER, while operated by Ethiopian Airlines, isn’t flying regular commercial passengers. Rather, the one aircraft operates for the United Nations, complete with its own plain and solid white UN livery.
We should also note that there are additional discrepancies with numbers between multiple sources. In this case, we have chosen to go with data from ch-aviation.com.
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Returning the 737 MAX 8 to service
The reason the airline’s 737 MAX jets are currently listed as ‘inactive’ is the result of the MAX crisis, with the carrier being one of two directly affected. For Ethiopian, it was the crash of ET302 in March of 2019. This disastrous event killed all passengers and crew onboard and was the main trigger for the worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX.
Simple Flying noted in February 2021 that its CEO was hoping to get the type flying again this month. At a CAPA Live conference at the time, CEO of Ethiopian, Tewolde Gebremariam, stated that the airline feels confident about the type’s future in the fleet following extensive scrutiny. Gebremariam stated:
“Our final decision is to continue with the airplane and to continue with our order … I would say that we may be able to start flying the airplane by summer.”
The CEO noted that the airline will need to take time to convince its pilots, crews, technicians, and also its passengers, that this airplane “is safe beyond any reasonable doubt.”
With a large number of 737-700s and -800s already, the carrier is heavily invested in the 737 as a type. “[S]o that means we are committed to the airplane,” Gebremariam said. The airline has explored possibilities and other options. Still, the CEO says that diversifying to another airplane in that category is not economically feasible “as long as the airplane is good.” ch-aviation.com data suggests that the airline is still to take delivery of 26 737 MAX 8 jets.
Keeping a modern widebody fleet
Another interesting note is the airline’s incredible widebody diversity. On top of the older 767 and 777 and their respective variants, the carrier went big on the 787 Dreamliner when it was first announced by Boeing. Indeed, it took delivery of a brand new 787-9 as recently as last October.
In more recent times, the airline has shifted its attention to acquiring more Airbus A350s. In November 2020, the carrier even took delivery of two A350s at once.
What do you think of the Ethiopian Airlines fleet? Is there an aircraft type you believe the airline should add to the collection? Let us know by leaving a comment.