Ethiopian Airlines Still Considering Another Widebody Order

In recent years, Ethiopian Airlines has become one of the key players of African commercial aviation. It operates a diverse fleet comprising both widebody and narrowbody designs, as well as regional aircraft. It may be set to further diversify the former of these categories, as it weighs up its options for another potential twin-aisle order.

Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350
Ethiopian already flies the Airbus A350-900, but might it go for a larger version? Photo: Airbus

A potential A350-1000 order

Addis Ababa-based Star Alliance member Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed that it is in the final stages of its decision-making process regarding its next widebody order. Speaking to Aviation Week, the carrier’s CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam, confirmed that one of the designs that he is considering is the stretched-fuselage Airbus A350-1000.

The -1000 variant of Airbus’s next-generation widebody family clocks in at 73.79 meters long. This gives it an added seven meters of length over the 66.8-meter-long A350-900 variant, which typically translates to around 55 extra seats. However, the extra capacity isn’t the only selling point for Ethiopian Airlines. Indeed, GebreMariam told Aviation Week that:

It looks like the A350-1000 is good for the high altitude of 2,200 m (7,200 feet) above sea level at our hub [at] Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, so we are okay [with the aircraft performance].”

Airbus A350-1000 Getty
The A350-1000 would be well suited to Addis Ababa’s high altitude. Photo: Getty Images

Scope for the Boeing 777X as well?

While GebreMariam considers the A350-1000 to be an attractive proportion for his airline, it is not the only widebody design that the Ethiopian Group CEO is considering. Indeed, he is also weighing up the possibility of bringing the Boeing 777X series to Addis Ababa. Regarding Boeing’s next-generation widebody, GebreMariam told Aviation Week:

As you know, the 777X is delayed. However, we are talking with Boeing [as well]. Before the end of the year, we plan to have made a decision.”

This means that we should see Ethiopian add to its order book in the next few months. Regardless of which design the airline goes for, GebreMariam plans to order at least 10 narrowbodies to accompany his carrier’s existing twin-aisle fleet. But which widebodies does Ethiopian already operate? Let’s take a closer look at the relevant data.

Ethiopian 777
Ethiopian already operates older passenger and cargo-carrying 777s. Photo: Getty Images

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Ethiopian’s current widebody fleet

According to figures from ch-aviation.com, Ethiopian Airlines presently has 66 widebodies in its fleet. Of these, the majority are Boeing designs, with the only Airbus representation coming in the form of 16 A350-900s. However, the carrier does also have a further eight of these twinjets on order. Will we see the stretched-fuselage -1000 join them?

In terms of Boeing aircraft, Ethiopian’s most common design is the 787-8, of which it operates 19. There are also eight 787-9s in the airline’s fleet, alongside four 767-300ERs. Ethiopian’s remaining widebodies comprise the following 777 family aircraft. It remains to be seen if the 777X will join them. In any case, we should find out before long.

  • 777-200LR – six examples.
  • 777-200F – nine examples.
  • 777-300ER – four examples.

What do you make of Ethiopian Airlines’ potential widebody order? Which twin-aisle design would you most like to see the carrier take on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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