On November 14, 2008, Ethiopian Airlines signed an agreement with Bombardier to purchase eight Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft, the first delivery of which is scheduled for September 2010. The agreement also provides the option for the purchase of four additional aircraft.
Based on the price list of the Q400 NextGen aircraft, the total value of the firm order contract is approximately US$242 million and could increase to US$366 million if the option to purchase the additional four aircraft were to be exercised.
The Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft has an excellent range and payload capability which will permit Ethiopian the flexibility to deploy the equipment on its domestic routes within Ethiopia as well as on its regional routes ranging up to 1,000 nautical miles or 1,850 km. from Addis Ababa.
Another key factor for the selection of the Q400 aircraft is its exceptional performance in terms of climb rate, single-engine ceiling and a higher level of take-off weight, resulting in increased payload from hot and high elevation airfields. The new aircraft has a passenger seat capacity of 78 in contrast to the 50-seater Fokker aircraft currently in use by Ethiopian. The airline also uses the B737-700 equipment for certain of its domestic flight operations as required.
Speaking about the selection of the new aircraft, Mr. Girma Wake, the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines further explained that, “Because of the 360-knot speed, low operating costs and favorable environmental credentials of the Q400 NextGen aircraft, Ethiopian Airlines will remain competitive and be in a position to provide adequate and a high standard of quality service to its customers.”
Mr. Girma also said, “Following the rapid growth of the Ethiopian economy, we have been experiencing an appreciable rate of growth in market demand on the domestic sector of our services, and in order to cater to this market, Ethiopian had embarked on a domestic fleet renewal project for sometime. From our research and careful analysis, it has been determined that we require 8 to 12 aircraft within the next few years for both the domestic and regional routes operations”.
Ethiopian Airlines plays a critical and major role in bringing the cities of the different regions of Ethiopia within easy reach of Addis Ababa, the capital. Today, the public travels within and across the nation for various reasons. While the domestic business travel is growing fast and steadily along side the economy, the tourist market has also shown positive trends over the last few years. It is, therefore, quite fitting and consistent that the national carrier has to keep abreast with these rapid developments. The purchase of the new fleet is, no doubt, timely and most appropriate.
Ethiopian provides more than twice daily services to each of the historic sites of Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibella, and Axum. Among these routes, Bahir Dar is served with 23 flights per week while Axum and Gondar follow the ranks with 15 and 14 frequencies per week respectively.
Ethiopian Airlines, www.ethiopianairlines.com, one of the largest and fastest growing airlines in Africa made its maiden flight to Cairo in 1946. With the recent addition of new flight services to Ouagadougou, Lubumbashi and Abuja, Ethiopian provides reliable services to 33 cities in Africa and to a total of 53 international destinations across the globe.
Ethiopian is the winner of many international awards. In August of this year, it won the 2008 Corporate Achievement Award of Aviation and Allied Business for setting the pace, and for its continued contribution towards the development of the African aviation industry.