Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed the delivery of two Airbus A350 planes. The 2 aircrafts are the first delivery of an order of 10 A350-900 aircrafts that the airline placed in 2017. In 2016, Ethiopian Airline became the first African carrier to operate the Airbus A350 and has since followed up with more orders for the wide-body aircrafts.
The new delivery brings the fleet of Airbus aircrafts under Ethiopian Airlines to 16. The Airbus A350 is a wide-body aircraft that accommodates between 300 and 350 passengers in a standard three-class configuration. The Ethiopian Airlines’ A350-900s are configured in a two-class layout seating 30 passengers in Business Class and 313 in Economy Class. The aircrafts are powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofan engines.
When we spoke to Rolls-Royce earlier this year at the Aviation Africa event held in Addis Ababa, shortly before the rest of Africa went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was great optimism about the aviation opportunity across the continent.
Since then, the lockdowns imposed by most countries greatly grounded air travel. However, Ethiopian Airlines carried on flying and maintained connection especially to China. The airline also changed tact and opted to move into cargo handling since the passenger numbers were greatly impacted.
This new delivery underlines the belief that we should see a rebound of air travel when countries are able to rein in the spread of the Covid-19. The expected rebound has however been dealt a significant setback with countries across Europe going back into lockdown as a second wave of Coronavirus infections flares up.