Ethiopian Airlines Orders More Boeing 787s, 737 MAXs


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Ethiopian Airlines has just placed an aircraft order, which is the biggest single Boeing order ever from an African airline.

Ethiopian Airlines orders up to 67 Boeing jets

Ethiopian Airlines has placed a firm order for an additional 31 Boeing jets, with options for an additional 36 jets:

  • Ethiopian Airlines has placed an order for 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, with options for an additional 21 jets; this complements Ethiopian’s previous order of 32 737 MAX 8s, 11 of which have been delivered, meaning the airline will eventually have 52-73 737 MAX 8s
  • Ethiopian Airlines has placed an order for 11 Boeing 787-9s, with options for an additional 15 jets; this complements Ethiopian’s previous order for of 10 787-9s, all of which have been delivered, meaning the airline will eventually have 21-36 787-9s

The delivery timeline for these jets hasn’t yet been revealed, though I’ll be sure to update this post if it’s announced.

Here’s how Ethiopian Airlines CEO Mesfin Tasew describes this order:

“We are pleased to announce that Ethiopian Airlines has reached a deal with Boeing to place a firm order for 31 ultra-modern airplanes, with opportunity for 36 additional jets. This order will enable us to modernize and increase our fleet in support of Ethiopian Airlines’ growth plan and our Vision 2035 Strategy. Through this deal, we have solidified our decades-old exemplary business partnership with Boeing. The 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX demonstrate Ethiopian Airlines’ environmentally conscious decisions and its commitment to serve passengers with the latest technologically advanced airplanes.”

Ethiopian Airlines has ordered more Boeing 787-9s

This is a sensible fleet renewal strategy

Ethiopian Airlines is by far the best run major airline in Africa, in terms of route network, profitability, stable strategy, enabling economic growth in its home country, etc.

Historically, Ethiopian Airlines had a rather varied fleet, though that was also because the airline picked up a lot of secondhand jets. With that in mind, I think these aircraft orders from Ethiopian make a lot of sense:

  • In the future, the 737 MAX 8 will be Ethiopian’s sole narrow body jets, and that offers great fuel economy and synergies; I imagine Ethiopian will eventually retire its nine 737-700s and 17 737-800s
  • Ethiopian’s wide body strategy is a bit more varied, as the airline flies the 787-8, 787-9, A350-900, 777-200LR, 777-300ER, and eventually plans to take delivery of the A350-1000; the 787-9 seems like a logical plane for wide body fleet growth, and I imagine eventually Ethiopian’s long haul fleet will consist exclusively of A350s and 787s
  • I wouldn’t necessarily expect Ethiopian to retire its 777s anytime soon, even though they’re previous generation jets; they’re an average of under 10 years old, so unless leases happen to end and it’s financially advantageous, those planes still have a lot of life in them

It’s interesting to see the continued strong relationship between Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing, given the 737 MAX fiasco, and how Boeing tried to shift the blame for the crash onto the airline.

Ethiopian Airlines has ordered more Boeing 737 MAX 8s

Bottom line

Ethiopian Airlines has placed an order for up to 67 Boeing jets, comprised of 31 firm orders and 36 options. The airline will be acquiring more Boeing 787-9s and 737 MAX 8s. The 737 MAX will likely eventually become Ethiopian’s sole narrow body jet, while Ethiopian will continue to have a varied wide body fleet, as the airline has invested in both the A350 and 787 (in addition to continuing to fly existing 777s).

What do you make of Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing aircraft order?

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