Ethiopian’s first Boeing 787 received the traditional water salute from the Addis Abbaba airport fire brigade shortly after it touched down here on Friday morning. The aircraft had just completed its delivery flight from Seattle via Washington.
The salute was not really necessary, once could hardly see it in what can only be described as torrential rainfall in Ethiopia. The 787, the first of ten on order, arrived in the middle of the rainy season, but hundreds of people did not mind the circumstances and literally stormed the apron once the aircraft came to a halt. It could not even stop at its parking position and had to be parked on the taxi line of Addis’ main apron.
Ethiopian was the third airline worldwide to take delivery of the Dreamliner following All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines (JAL). To say that people here are proud is an understatement. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that the aircraft is a symbol for change and improvement in Africa.
Media scrum surrounding Tewolde Gebremariam
Ethiopian will stage a major party on Friday night and begin touring the aircraft around Africa on Saturday. The first flight is a sightseeing trip for special guests around Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Boeing had already brought the 787 to Ethiopia once before, when the airline joined Star Alliance last year. The Star CEOs were invited on a two hour flight around the mountains in Northern Ethiopia and participants said it was spectacular.