Addis Ababa - Ethiopian Airlines next
week takes delivery of Africa's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the
airline's chief executive said the plane will first be used on routes
around the continent.
The airline takes delivery of the
Dreamliner on Tuesday in Seattle, Washington. The plane's maiden
flight the following weekend is to carry 250 select customers and
VIPs, who will fly around Mount Kilimanjaro on the Tanzania-Kenya
"We are really excited to become
the first carrier in Africa, Europe, Americas and Middle East to
operate this modern aircraft," Ethiopian Airlines chief
executive Tewolde Gebremariam told The Associated Press in an
The 787, which so far is operated only
by two Japanese airlines, is Chicago-based Boeing's most advanced
plane. It is made out of lighter, composite material - 50% of the
plane is carbon fibre - that allows airlines to save on fuel costs.
Large windows provide a stronger
connection to the outside world, on-board humidity is increased and
the cabin pressure is closer to what it feels like on the ground. LED
lights that slowly change colour is another feature designed to fight
Ethiopian Air will put the 787 on its
African routes first - to Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa,
Zambia and Zimbabwe - before it flies to other international
destinations, such as Washington DC, Tewolde said.
"This is a game-changer aircraft.
It will completely change how people travel across the globe. Not
only will we enjoy a 20% reduction in fuel cost but it is
environmentally friendly with less carbon emission than any other
similarly sized aircraft," Tewolde said.
Ethiopian Airlines ordered 10 787s.
Tewolde said five will enter service before the end of the year and
will be deployed to long-haul routes. The carrier's other five
Dreamliners are expected in early 2014.
The airline's first Dreamliner has 270
seats configured in two classes. It will touch down at Bole Addis
Ababa International Airport Aug. 17.
The International Air Transport
Association says airline profit margins and cash flows are being
squeezed by rising fuel prices, a trend that has heavily affected
fragile African carriers. Ethiopian Airlines said it is has been
successfully mitigating price hikes with cost saving schemes.
The airline is implementing a 15-year
plan to evolve into a diversified aviation group with multiple hubs
and business units with a target of $10bn in revenue by 2015. The
carrier currently flies to 69 international destinations with an
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