Ethiopian Airlines placed a firm order for four Boeing 777 Freighters at the Dubai Airshow Tuesday. The $1.3 billion deal involves a new order for two of the big cargo jets and a conversion of a commitment for another two announced in June. Schedules call for delivery in 2018 and 2019.
Appearing at the show with Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister, Ethiopian Airlines group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told reporters that he expected growth “tailwinds” will continue for his airline.
“This airplane order will provide Ethiopian’s cargo and logistics business with enhanced cargo capacity and better operating economics as we continue to build one of the largest cargo terminals in the world,” he said. “Operating high-performance airplanes such as the 777 Freighter is a reflection of our commitment to expand and support the growing imports and exports of our country and the African continent.”
Ethiopian now operates one of the largest and youngest fleets in Africa, including Boeing 737s, 757s, 767s, 777s, and 787s. Also operating six Airbus A350-900s, it took delivery of its first of nineteen 787-8s in 2010 and its first of four 787-9s last month. It also awaits delivery of the first of thirty 737 Max 8s on order.
Ethiopian Cargo ranks as the largest network cargo operator in Africa, flying six 777 and two 757 Freighters to 39 destinations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Ethiopian Cargo opened a new cargo terminal in June that gives the carrier an annual capacity of one million tons.
For Boeing, the order pushes 777 net orders this year to 57, including 37 current-generation 777s. The company has sold out all its delivery positions for the model in 2018 and, according to McAllister, feels “in good shape” for 2019. It plans to deliver the first 777X in early 2020.