Eight Years Ago Ethiopian Airlines Took Its First Boeing 787

On August 14th, 2012, African giant Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787-8. Eight years on, the aircraft is an integral part of Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet and helps the carrier connect the rest of the world to Africa and beyond via its hub in Addis Ababa. Here’s a look back at Ethiopian Airlines and the Boeing 787.

Ethiopian Airlines
It has been eight years since Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first 787. Photo: Getty Images

The first order for Ethiopian’s Boeing 787

In February of 2005, Ethiopian Airlines agreed with Boeing to purchase 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft comprised of five firm orders and five options. At the time, the airline anticipated taking the first 787 in 2008. Ethiopian Airlines’ then-CEO, Ato Girma Wake, stated the following at the time of the order:

“You just can’t ignore how far Boeing has advanced the technology of commercial aviation with the 787 Dreamliner. The 787 represents the future – one in which Ethiopian Airlines will play a major part – and we view this airplane to be a cutting-edge solution to bolster our passenger service, improve our efficiencies and add to the airline’s bottom line.”

Only a few months later, the airline converted its options to firm orders. Since then, the airline continued to grow its Boeing 787 orders.

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Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines had a long history with Boeing before ordering the 787. Photo: Getty Images

The first Boeing 787 for Ethiopian Airlines

The Dreamliner program was marked by several delays, so Ethiopian Airlines did not end up taking its first Boeing 787 until 2012. On August 14th, 2012, the carrier took its first 787-8. CEO Tewolde GebreMariam stated the following on the jet’s delivery:

“We are pleased to be the first airline in the world outside Japan to receive this technologically advanced aircraft. We have been waiting for this airplane and now that we officially have it and will show it to the world, I can say with pride, it was worth the wait. This airplane is going to move Ethiopian Airlines to the forefront of aviation leadership around the globe.”

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The first Boeing 787 for Ethiopian Airlines. Photo: Boeing

The 787s operated alongside the carrier’s Boeing 777-200LRs, 767s, 757s, and 737s. The 757s are now retired. The first 787-8 delivered to Ethiopian was ET-AOQ and is one of the oldest Boeing 787s in the skies.

In October 2017, Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9. Ethiopian continues to take delivery of the 787-9s and has more on order. The first 787-9 is on lease from AerCap. When the 787-9 arrived, the rest of Ethiopian’s fleet was made up of Boeing 737s, 767s, 777-200LRs and -300ERs, and Boeing 787-8s.

Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines’ first Boeing 787-9 was delivered in 2017. Photo: Boeing

The 787 in Ethiopian’s fleet today

According to data from Planespotters.net, Ethiopian Airlines has 26 Boeing 787s in its fleet. This includes 19 787-8s and seven 787-9s with more to come.

The Boeing 787 is the airline’s staple long-haul widebody. The aircraft operate several high-density routes in Africa, such as between Addis Ababa and Johannesburg, but its primary purpose is to support the airline’s operations in Europe, Asia, and abroad. The 787s fly to the United States, with a stop, for example, between Addis Ababa and Houston via a stop in Lome.

The Boeing 787-9s are outfitted with 30 business class seats and 285 in economy for a total capacity of 315 passengers. The 787-8s have 24 business class seats and 246 economy class seats for a total capacity of 270 passengers.

Have you flown Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 787? What was the experience like? Let us know in the comments!