By Kaleyesus Bekele
The management of Ethiopian Airlines is contemplating to acquire Boeing 777 freighter aircraft.
The outgoing Ethiopian CEO, Girma Wake, told The Reporter that the surge in the amount of cargo the airline is hauling prompted the management to procure new Boeing 777 freighter aircraft. The management is holding talks with executives of the US – based aircraft manufacturer, Boeing. Girma said that the management is undertaking a study that will enable it to determine the number of B777 jetliner it will order.
“We may not be able to get the B777 freighter aircraft from Boeing but we can lease from Boeing Capital, which buys aircraft from Boeing and leases them to airlines. But eventually we will buy the aircraft. It has a huge capacity. We need that aircraft to meet the growing cargo business,” Girma told The Reporter.
Randy J. Tinseth, vice president-marketing Boeing Commercial Airplanes, who gave a press conference last Monday in Addis Ababa, declined to comment on Ethiopian’s plan to acquire the B777 cargo aircraft and the ongoing talks with Boeing on the matter. “Boeing does not disclose business deals, only the customer is entitled to do so,” Tinseth said.
Last Saturday, Ethiopian took delivery of the first of the five B777-200LR passenger aircraft from Boeing.
Some years back the national flag carrier had only one Boeing 757-260F cargo aircraft. Currently, it operates a cargo fleet of 2 B757-260F, 2 MD11 and 2 B747, the largest cargo fleet in Africa.
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) this week disclosed that Ethiopian is the largest freight carrier in Africa.
AFRAA’s annual report, presented at the association’s 42nd general assembly held in Addis Ababa from November 22-23 at the UNECA Conference Center, showed that Ethiopian Airlines transported 87 percent of the total air freight carried by African airlines in 2009.
“Out of five AFRAA member airlines, which transported a total of 44,225 tons of freight in 2009, Ethiopian Airlines accounted for 87 percent of this, transporting 38,384 tons,” the report stated.
“Ethiopian Airlines is one of the airlines that realized the huge profitable opportunities in cargo services and the airline has invested heavily in modern facilities at its headquarters at Bole International Airport to capitalize on this.”
Three other airlines – Egypt Air, Kenya Airways and South African Airways- that transported the most cargo also posted the highest profits. The report added, “These airlines have well developed cargo departments dedicated to optimizing revenue from this often neglected area of airline operations. It is also significant that these airlines with marked cargo volumes are also profitable in part due to cargo’s significant contribution to the bottom-line.”