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Ethiopian Airlines Embarks on Historic Boeing Aircraft Purchase

ET-AOS, Boeing 787-8

In a groundbreaking announcement at the Dubai Airshow, Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing [NYSE: BA] have inked a significant agreement for the acquisition of up to 67 Boeing jets. The deal includes 11 787 Dreamliner and 20 737 MAX airplanes, with the potential for an additional 15 and 21 jets, respectively. This landmark agreement stands as the largest-ever purchase of Boeing aircraft in the history of the African continent.

CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group, Mr. Mesfin Tasew, expressed enthusiasm about the deal, stating, “We are delighted to announce a firm order for 31 state-of-the-art airplanes from Boeing, with an option for 36 more. This strategic move will facilitate the modernization and expansion of our fleet in alignment with Ethiopian Airlines’ growth plan and Vision 2035 Strategy. By solidifying our enduring partnership with Boeing, we underscore our commitment to environmentally conscious decisions and providing passengers with cutting-edge, technologically advanced aircraft in the form of the 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX.”

The order comprises the 787-9 Dreamliner variant, known for a 25% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions compared to its predecessors. Additionally, Ethiopian Airlines is integrating the 737-8 model, offering a 20% reduction in fuel usage and emissions, along with a 50% smaller noise footprint. Both aircraft families prioritize enhanced environmental performance and passenger comfort within their respective markets.

This strategic commitment positions Ethiopian Airlines to enhance and diversify its existing fleet, which currently boasts over 80 Boeing jets. Ethiopian is already a leader in operating Africa’s largest Dreamliner fleet, featuring a combination of 787-8s and 787-9s. The new order for 737 MAX aircraft will further strengthen the airline’s portfolio, with details to be available on Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries website upon finalization.

Beyond the aircraft order, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines have agreed to collaborate on cabin modification services for the carrier’s existing 787 Dreamliners. These comprehensive retrofits aim to elevate the passenger experience through advanced in-flight entertainment and new seats across all cabins, including lie-flat business-class seats from Boeing joint venture Adient Aerospace.

Brad McMullen, Boeing’s Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing, commended Ethiopian Airlines, stating, “Ethiopian Airlines continues its leadership as one of Africa’s premier airlines with this historic commitment to expand their 787 and 737 MAX fleets. With their decades of experience operating our single-aisle and widebody jets, we appreciate Ethiopian Airlines’ confidence in our products and the strength of our relationship after more than 75 years of collaboration.”

The Boeing 787-9 boasts a capacity to carry 296 passengers across 14,010 km (7,565 nautical miles), while the 737-8 accommodates up to 210 passengers with a range of up to 6,480 km (3,500 nautical miles).

Boeing’s Commercial Market Outlook for Africa projects a need for 1,025 airplanes over the next two decades, with more than 70% expected to be single-aisle jets. The continent’s air-traffic growth is forecasted at 7.4% through 2042, ranking third globally and exceeding the global average growth rate of 6.1%.

Ethiopian Airlines Group, recognized as the fastest-growing airline brand globally and the largest on the continent, has earned numerous accolades, including Skytrax’s ‘Best Airline in Africa Award’ for six consecutive years. As a Star Alliance member since 2011, Ethiopian has achieved over threefold growth in the past decade. For additional information, visit

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