Ethiopian Airlines to expand partnerships in Africa


(eTN) Ethiopian Airlines (ET) is intensifying its own efforts in the “battle for the African skies.” With the launch earlier this year of a partner airline based in Lome, a first step was taken to capture additional market share in West Africa by launching new airlines supported by both capital and management expertise. Unconfirmed reports from Addis indicate that following this first, ET is apparently thinking about doing the same thing in other parts of West Africa and even considering investing in existing airlines with promise of a viable future, should initial exploratory discussions allow moving towards formal negotiations.

Meanwhile, ET also confirmed that it is due for delivery of its first B777-200LR in the third quarter of this year, with an additional four such aircraft joining the Ethiopian fleet between then and the middle of next year. In regard of their 10 pending B787 orders, the airline is confident that the envisaged date of July 2011 can be met by Boeing, after repeated long delays.

Once the new wide body fleet is in operation, it will replace some of the ageing B767 models presently in use and also create capacity for more destinations in the US and the Far and South East, an area also eyed by the airline – as does, incidentally, Kenya Airways as well.

No firm joining date could be obtained as to when ET will become a formal applicant airline to join the global Star Alliance, other than reaffirming what is already public knowledge – that Star is indeed the preferred choice of Ethiopian and that discussions are at an advanced stage.