Star Alliance member Ethiopian Airlines yesterday took delivery of Africa’s first Airbus A350XWB, being launch customer for the continent.
The aircraft will be deployed on the routes between Addis Ababa and Lagos and Addis Ababa and Dubai, clearly aimed to impress the Nigerian market to travel with them, now that Emirates has reportedly cut their services down to one frequency a day.
The aircraft, named Simien Mountains, was handed over to the top management of Ethiopian Airlines in Toulouse where the aircraft was assembled and tested before delivery.
ET has ordered an initial 14 of these state of the art wide body aircraft and expects delivery of another 13 after today, though there is speculation that the airline may up the order as it remains Africa’s leading airline in terms of fleet, African and other international destinations.
The new aircraft is registered as ET-ATQ, MSN 40 while a sistership, due to join her in a few weeks, will be known as ET-ATR with MSN 43. There have been fears that the various challenges Airbus is encountering right now with its supply chain could have impacted on the delivery of this aircraft type to airlines around the world but is would appear that Airbus is pulling out all stops to ensure that new customer Ethiopian Airlines is not let down.
The new aircraft has 343 seats in two classes, offering a 3x3x3 configuration in Economy Class while Business class with 30 seats has a 2x2x2 cabin layout.
however is in stark contrast for instance with the A350’s operated by Qatar Airways which offer a 1x2x1 layout in their premium cabin.
Additional destinations of the new aircraft will be announced in due course when more of these planes have been delivered.