Time to talk about a part of the world we donâ€™t get to write about often: Africa! European and Asian airlines handle the lion’s share of the continent’s long-haul air traffic. But recently weâ€™ve seen Africa’s own carriers make impressive strides. Royal Air Maroc is using its Dreamliner fleet to operate long thin routes to multiple continents. Kenya Airways recently inaugurated direct service to New York. South African Airlines may be dealing with financial struggles, but remains a juggernaut of the region.
Ethiopian Boeing 787 Dreamliner (ET-AOQ) taken in July 2012 by Moonm
But among the large African carriers, arguably none had a year as big last year as Ethiopian Airlines. Its fleet has been growing by leaps and bounds, and includes fresh faces like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350. The airline has been launching new long-haul routes to destinations like Manchester and Chicago, and this just week it announced it’s bumping up frequencies to Washington DC and Chicago and adding service to Houston, though it’s cutting its LAX route. Despite the airline’s growth and transformation, it’s continued to do well in ratings (at least those from sites like Skytrax) and in showcasing the culture and food of its home country.
Read on for an update on Ethiopian Airlines’ major expansion and why the airline is relevant to you, even if you live in the US.
Ethiopian’s 787 taxis at LAX to gate 134
With the arrival of flight ET504 into the new Tom Bradley International Terminal on June 20th, Ethiopian Airlines officially kicked off its service between Addis Ababa and Los Angeles, via Dublin.
The festivities, punctuated with live music as well as traditional Irish and Ethiopian dancing, celebrated the first time a carrier based in Africa has served Los Angeles.
These service additions are part of Ethiopian’s overall strategy to dominate the African market. By maximizing fleet utilization and picking up a route that Aer Lingus abandoned in 2008, Ethiopian Airlines has smartly connected the large Ethiopian and Irish communities in Southern California to their respective native homelands, proverbially killing two birds with one stone.
Photo from Sky.com shows fire appears to be in the rear of the aircraft. Via NYCAviation.com.
Flights were suspended at London’s Heathrow Airport [LHR] at 16:30 BST due to a fire on an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The airport was re-opened at about 18:00 BST today .
The aircraft involved is ET-AOP, which is the first 787 Dreamliner to return to service after the world-wide grounding of the aircraft. No passengers were on board at the time of the fire and officials are trying to determine the cause. Photos show that the fire was in the rear of the aircraft with noticeable damage to the top of the fuselage. Due to the location of the fire, it appears that this is not related to the lithium-ion batteries, which have plagued the Dreamliner.
According to Sky News, the aircraft was parked at a remote stand and was there for more than eight hours before smoke was detected. The plane was scheduled to be used for flight ET701 to Addis Ababa at 9pm.
You cannot have a delivery ceremony without a ribbon cutting. Image from Boeing.
Yesterday, Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Paine Field in Everett, WA. The aircraft is named “Africa First.”
“Today begins the first day in a new era of flying for our passengers and brings us even closer to our vision for the future, Vision 2025,” said Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. “We are pleased to be the first airline in the world outside Japan to receive this technologically advanced aircraft. We have been waiting for this airplane and now that we officially have it and will show it to the world, I can say with pride, it was worth the wait. This airplane is going to move Ethiopian Airlines to the forefront of aviation leadership around the globe.”
Ethiopian’s Cloud Nine (Business Class) cabin on the 787. Image from Ethiopian Airlines.
The aircraft landed in Washington DC and will continue heading west to Bole Addis Ababa International Airport (ADD) in Ethiopia tomorrow.
“Today marks not just another milestone for Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines, but a new beginning in our 65-year partnership,” said Van Rex Gallard, vice president of Sales for Africa, Latin America, & Caribbean, Boeing Commercial Airplanes during the delivery ceremony. “Ethiopian Airlines continues to show their strong leadership in African aviation and their growing presence around the globe. Being the first in Africa and one of the first in the world further confirms their position globally.”
A flight attendant in the 787’s economy class. Image from Ethiopian Airlines.
Ethiopian is the first non-Japanese airline to take delivery of the Dreamliner and they have nine additional 787s on order. The airline will begin daily flights between DC and Addis Ababa using the 787 on October 20th, a route that is currently operated by a Boeing 777-200LR.
Ethiopians 787 is laid out with 24 seats in Cloud Nine and 246 seats in economy.
Ethiopian’s first 787 at Paine Field yesterday. Photo by Boeing.
ADDITIONAL ETHIOPIAN BOEING 787 PHOTOS: