Ethiopian Airlines Close to Airbus A220 Order, May Replace 737 MAX

Inside the cockpit of an Airbus A220. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Africa’s largest and most profitable carrier is hoping to finalize its first Airbus A220 order soon. Ethiopian Airlines is reportedly close to a deal for up to 20 Airbus A220 aircraft which could bring more than $1.6 billion to the aircraft manufacturer.

Ethiopian Airlines was one of the airlines affected by the Boeing 737 MAX groundings after Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed earlier this year killing 157 people.

The airline has always had a preference for Boeing, operating 26 737-700 and 800 aircraft, six 767-300ERs, six 777-200LRs, four 777-300ERs and 23 787-8s and -9s. The airline also still has outstanding orders for two additional 737-800s, 28 737-MAX 8s, and seven 787-9s.

Should the A220 deal close, the aircraft will be the second Airbus order the carrier has made after receiving 12 A350-900s and placing orders for an additional 12.

The carrier has also started to receive De Havilland Dash 8-400 turboprops, of which 21 are currently in operation and 9 are on order.

While not confirmed, it is predicted that Ethiopian Airlines plans to use the A220s to resume flights to cities that were scrapped due to the grounding of the MAX.

Affected destinations include Gaborone in Botswana and Windhoek in Namibia.

“The C series is a very good airplane. We have been evaluating it for a long time. Our engineers, pilots, technicians, and economists have studied the aircraft and confirmed that it is fit for purpose for our mission especially in the 100-seat category,” said Ethiopian CEO Tewolde GebreMariam.

In regards to the 737 MAX, Ethiopian is not any closer in deciding if the aircraft will make a return to its fleet. In fact, the carrier may be the last to decide if it should resume operations of the 737 MAX.

“It’s only natural for us to be the last one to decide on the MAX. If we’re convinced the problems are fully addressed, and that the re-certification is done in a collaborative manner with all regulators, then we will take the time, effort and energy to convince our pilots, crew and passengers that the aircraft is safe to get back in the air,” said GebreMariam in an interview.

Akhil Dewan

An “AvGeek” for most of his life, Akhil has always been drawn to aviation. If there is an opportunity to read about an airline, fly on a new airplane, or talk to anyone about aviation, he is on it. Akhil has been on over 20 different kinds of aircraft, his favorite being the MD-80. Additionally, he has visited 5 continents and plans to knock out the remaining two (Africa and Antarctica) soon. Based in Dallas, Akhil graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Management Information Systems and currently works in consulting. His dream is to become an airline executive.
Akhil Dewan