Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ethiopian goes for B737 MAX airliner

After a thorough evaluation on rival narrow-body aircraft for the past several months the Ethiopian Airlines has chosen the single aisle Boeing 737 Max aircraft as its future regional jet fleet.

Early this year the management of Ethiopian put up a request inviting companies to present their proposals for the supply of narrow-body aircraft. Six major aircraft manufacturers have now submitted their proposals to Ethiopian.

Mitsubishi of Japan, Ilyshin of Russia, Embraer of Brazil, Bombardier of Canada, the European consortium Airbus and the US airframer, Boeing, were the six companies bidding to supply aircraft to Ethiopian. The companies proposed regional jets with 80-120 seats.

Mitsubushi presented its MRJ jets. Ilyshin Finance CO. proposed the Sukhoi 100 aircraft. The Brazilian manufacturer presented the E-Jets. Bombardier came up with the C-series aircraft. Boeing proposed its new B737 MAX aircraft while its European arch rival Airbus demonstrated the much fanfared A320NEO airliner.

Reliable sources told The Reporter that A320NEO, B737 MAX and C-Series Jet were the finalists. Sources said the technical committee recently finalized the evaluation process, adding that the technical committee had decided to order B737 MAX. “The number of aircraft would soon be decided,” sources told The Reporter. Ethiopian could order 10-20 B737 MAX aircraft.

According to Boeing Commercial Planes, the price of MAX ranges from 80 to 110 million dollars. Boeing received 1763 orders for MAX since its launch in 2011. First flight of B737 MAX is scheduled for 2017.

Ethiopian CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, told The Reporter that a decision has not been made on the type of narrow-body aircraft. Tewolde said that a decision will soon be made adding that it would be made public in due course.  

Ethiopian fleet is dominated by Boeing. Currently, the airline operates B737, B757, B767, B777, B787 and MD 11 freighter aircraft. On the domestic routes, the airline operates Bombardier Q400 aircraft.

Airbus, which has been trying to break Boeing’s monopoly on Ethiopian for years, succeeded in 2009 when Ethiopian ordered 12 Airbus A350 XWB jetliners. Back then, the management of Ethiopian decided to use a mixed fleet.

Ethiopian has the youngest fleet of aircraft in Africa.  In line with Ethiopian’s 15-year development roadmap, Vision 2025, the carrier plans to double its fleet to 120 planes and carry 18 million passengers over 92 routes by 2025.