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Friday, March 7, 2014

Ethiopian Airlines Planning 787 Service to Manila

A report in Air Transport World has revealed that Ethiopian Airlines, the second largest carrier in Africa, is once again eyeing new service to Manila. However, unlike the service that was announced last year utilizing a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, Ethiopian Airlines is now planning to use one of the carrier's 270-seat Boeing 787-8 aircraft on the route.
Although no specific details have been given on the timing or frequency of the possible new route, it is believed that the carrier is also planning 787 service to Tokyo, Japan, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Ethiopian was originally scheduled to begin flying to Manila in June of 2013 but glitches involving the airline's Boeing 787 fleet and an inability to secure landing slots at Ninoy Aquino International Airport pushed the launch of service back to July 2013.

Ethiopian Airlines later revealed that it would begin flying between its hub in Addis Ababa and Manila via Hong Kong on July 2, 2013 with three-weekly flights utilizing a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. But the airline announced soon after that it would be indefinitely postponing its plans to serve Manila. Although no official reason was given, it was believed that the airline cancelled its plans to serve Manila last year due to an inability to secure fifth freedom rights between Hong Kong and the Philippines.
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines indicated in an interview with the Centre for Aviation that the airline was hoping to secure rights between Hong Kong and Manila as the Philippines is a small and challenging market to sustain with a non-stop service. In spite of that, the airline maintained that it was committed to serving Manila with or without fifth freedom rights, which would make it the first African carrier to serve the Philippines. It is possible that the carrier plans to use the more fuel efficient Boeing 787 to compensate for what might be tight margins on the thin route. Ethiopian's Boeing 787 aircraft are equipped with 24 seats in Business Class and 246 seats in Economy.
Ethiopian Airlines wants to tap into the strong Philippine economy to help develop investment opportunities between Ethiopia and the Philippines. Africa would like to learn from agricultural experts in Asia in exchange for investment partnerships to develop the vast untapped mineral resources of Africa. Ethiopian Airlines also hopes to take advantage of the Philippines' reputation as a major exporter of consumer goods in order to expand trade beyond South Africa to other countries in the carrier's network. In addition, Filipinos will be able to connect to 44 destinations across Africa through Ethiopian's primary hub in Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines revealed that it is on the hunt for an additional 10-20 aircraft. The airline is currently evaluating the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X. These new aircraft will complement the airline's existing 62-aircraft fleet that includes five Boeing 787 Dreamliners and current orders for fourteen A350 aircraft.

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