Ethiopian airline set to become first in Africa to use the DreamlinerBy WANGUI MAINA for Business Daily | Thursday, August 9 2012 at 10:10
Ethiopian Airlines will become the first African carrier to use the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with its first plane set to be delivered next week.
The aeroplane, whose main draw is fuel savings of up to 20 per cent, will give the airline a competitive edge over African rivals such as Kenya Airways in attracting passengers seeking new and more comfortable flying experiences.
Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines’ main competitor in sub-Saharan Africa along with South African Airways, expects its first Dreamliner in October next year.
State-run Ethiopian Airlines had ordered 10 Dreamliners as part of its expansion plan while Kenya Airways has ordered nine, and has an option of four more.
Ethiopian Airlines is looking to grow its fleet of over 40 aircraft and has an order of 41 new aeroplanes.
South African Airways has an order of 20 aircraft including 10 Airbus 320 and Airbus 321.
High fuel prices have seen airlines globally retire old and mid-generation aircraft for more modern and efficient ones given fuel is the single greatest operating cost for any airline
Aircraft manufacturers have set their sights on Africa’s growing aviation sector mainly driven by exports, resources, foreign investment and the rise of a travelling middle class.
Boeing, one of the leading global manufacturers, projects Africa will require 900 new aeroplanes over the next 20 years, doubling its fleet, with at least 70 per cent of the forecast deliveries supporting growth.
Canadian firm Bombardier, the third largest aircraft maker after Boeing and Airbus, forecasts that 1,000 deliveries will be made to Middle East and Africa in the 20 to 149-seater market segment over the next 20 years.
Herb Wallen, Boeing’s marketing director commercial aircraft, said African carriers feature in the list of the 15 fastest-growing airlines with the continent’s top four averaging six per cent growth since 2008.
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