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Ethiopian Expands Fleet With Boeing 777X Deal

The carrier will become the first African airline to operate the 777X.

An Ethiopian 777X rendering (Photo: Boeing)

Ethiopian Airlines announced on Tuesday that it is expanding its widebody fleet through an agreement with Boeing. The deal involves the purchase of eight Boeing 777-9X passenger airplanes, with the option to acquire up to 12 additional jets. This move makes Ethiopian Airlines the first African customer of Boeing’s 777X.

“We are proud to continue leading the way in African aviation by embracing cutting-edge technologies to enhance our services and customer satisfaction. The 777-9, with its improved operational performance and commitment to environmental sustainability, offers greater flexibility, reduced fuel consumption, and lower carbon emissions,” said Mr. Mesfin Tasew, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group, in a press release. “We appreciate Boeing for their longstanding partnership and support, and we look forward to operating the 777-9 across African skies and beyond.”

Boeing highlights that the 777-9 incorporates advanced technologies from the 787 Dreamliner family. It features new carbon-fiber composite wings and engines that enable the airplane to achieve 10% better fuel efficiency and operating costs compared to its competitors. The 777-9 will support Ethiopian Airlines’ plans to expand and modernize its fleet, enhancing its capabilities to serve high-demand markets in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.

“Ethiopian Airlines’ selection of the 777-9 as the flagship of its growing fleet marks another milestone in our longstanding partnership,” added Brad McMullen, Boeing’s senior vice president of Commercial Sales and Marketing. “With a relationship spanning 75 years, we deeply appreciate the trust and confidence Ethiopian Airlines has in our airplanes.”

This agreement builds upon Ethiopian’s 2023 order for 11 787 Dreamliners and 20 737 MAX airplanes with a provision for an additional 36 airplanes, announced at the 2023 Dubai Airshow. The deal is a record-breaking order with Boeing, marking the largest-ever purchase of Boeing aircraft in Africa’s history.

In addition, Ethiopian Airlines has an existing order for the freighter version of the Boeing 777X. The airline announced on March 5, 2022 an order for five 777-8 Freighters becoming the second customer for the 777-8F following Qatar Airways’ order.

Boeing aircraft currently make up over half of Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet, which includes 29 787 Dreamliners, 20 777s, three 767s, 27 Next-Generation 737s, and 15 737 MAX jets.

Ongoing Delivery Delays

The Boeing 777X program has faced delays. Initially, Boeing intended to deliver the first 777X aircraft in 2020. However, due to various factors, including certification delays, the expected delivery date has been pushed back.

As of now, Boeing’s 777X is currently undergoing flight testing and is expected to enter commercial service in 2025.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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