(eTN) – The delivery of three B777-200LR aircraft between now and January 2011 and a further two such aircraft on order in the first half of 2011 will allow the Ethiopian flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines (ET), to begin nonstop flights to such destinations as Toronto, a destination long eyed by ET but owing to limited aircraft on the fleet until now impossible to achieve. The airline issued a statement last week that the first three B777s will be used to replace B767 aircraft on routes to Washington and Beijing, allowing the B767 to be redeployed before eventually being phased out when the airline takes delivery of the long-awaited and much-overdue B787s and several Airbus wide bodies now also on order.
Ethiopian, for long THE pan-African airline, had ceded ground in recent years to an aggressive Kenya Airways, now leading in terms of African destinations albeit by a very narrow margin, but considering where KQ came from, quite an achievement in its own right. Both airlines have ambitious plans to cover Africa like no other airline on the continent and connect passengers via their own hubs in Addis Ababa and Nairobi to the rest of the world, here ET having the lead as they are, unlike Kenya Airways, able to fly to the US.
Delayed wide-body aircraft deliveries, however, have impacted both airlines in their capacity and destination expansion, and both flag carriers are working hard to overcome the challenges this problem is posing to their strategic plans. ET, according to the information received, also expects a further three brand new B737-800 to join the fleet before the end of this year, and these aircraft will be used for flights across Africa to boost frequencies and allow the addition of more African destinations.