Ethiopian To Add 767Fs As Boeing Predicts ‘Robust’ African Growth

Ethiopian jet tail
Credit: Rob Finlayson

Ethiopian Airlines is taking three Boeing 767-300ER converted freighters on long-term lease from Titan Aircraft Investments, boosting the overall African fleet, which Boeing expects to grow by 1,010 new aircraft by 2040.

Titan Aircraft Investments, a joint venture between Titan Aviation Holdings and Bain Capital Credit, named Ethiopian Airlines as a “strategic customer” for the three 767-300ER conversions on Sept. 12. Titan has 10 freighters in total, five of which are 767 converted freighters.

Ethiopian will take delivery of the first Titan aircraft this month, followed by the second later in 2022 and a third aircraft in 2023. These will join Ethiopian’s existing fleet of nine widebody freighters and four 737 conversions.

During this summer’s Farnborough Airshow, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tasew detailed plans to almost double the airline’s fleet by 2035. “Today, Ethiopian Airlines operates around 135 aircraft,” he said. “By 2035, we would like to expand this fleet to more than 250 aircraft.”

Ethiopian currently has 37 aircraft on order, including 24 737 MAXs, five 777Fs, two 787s and six Airbus A350s. 

At Farnborough, Tasew also announced a tentative agreement with De Havilland Canada for two Dash 8-400 freighter conversion kits, with options on two more. If the deal is firmed, the conversions would be performed by Ethiopian’s in-house maintenance operation, which is already a De Haviland Canada Authorized Service Facility.

De Havilland launched three Dash 8-400 cargo conversion options at Farnborough and Ethiopian is planning to take the Large Cargo Door (F-LCD) kit, which is the biggest modification, involving the installation of a new 109 in. x 69 in. cargo door.

“We have a grand cargo expansion strategy and would like to expand our cargo fleet further. In line with that, we are evaluating new-generation cargo aircraft and particularly the Boeing 777-8X freighter in comparison with the A350 freighter,” Tasew said. “That is just under study to choose the right aircraft that fits us to be added into our cargo operation.”

He added that Ethiopian is also planning to acquire more 737 narrowbody freighters.

Boeing Africa Forecast

Ethiopian has one of the continent’s largest aircraft fleets. On Sept. 12, Boeing detailed its latest aircraft-demand forecast for the African market. The U.S. manufacturer is expecting Africa to achieve “a robust 6.1% compound annual growth rate,” creating demand for 1,010 new airplanes by 2040, valued at $176 billion. This growth will be driven by African regional and domestic travel.

“With Europe remaining the most prominent origin/destination for African carriers, overall African air traffic growth is forecasted at 5.2%, the third highest among global regions,” Boeing said. This compares with a global average growth rate of 3.8%.

African airlines are expected to take delivery of 82% of the 1,010 new aircraft, triggering need for around $80 billion in support services, such as maintenance.

In more detail, Boeing’s 2022 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) for Africa anticipates that African airlines will grow their fleets by 3.5% per year to accommodate the continent’s 5.2% annual passenger traffic growth.

Single-aisle jets are expected to account for more than 70% of the deliveries, with 740 new aircraft being deployed on domestic and regional routes. The outlook also includes demand for 250 new passenger and cargo widebodies, to support long-haul and freight growth.

“We forecast an increase in the average aircraft size and seats per aircraft for the African fleet, as mid-size, single aisles,” Boeing MD of commercial marketing for Middle East and Africa Randy Heisey said.

More than 80% of the aircraft will be used for growth, with nearly one in five deliveries replacing older airplanes. There will also be a need for 67,000 new African aviation professionals, including 20,000 pilots, 21,000 technicians and 26,000 cabin crew members. 

African Safety Agreements

Two African safety agreements were also announced on Sept. 12. 

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA), which represents 46 airlines across the continent, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with international non-profit organization Flight Safety Foundation to improve safety on the continent. Under the MOU, AFRAA and FSF will organize joint regional technical workshops and develop resource material for both organizations.

Separately, Boeing has partnered with African aviation safety specialist AviAssist, a non-profit organization that aims to promote safety education for African aviation professionals.

AviAssist Safety Promotion Centers (ASPCs) provide training and research resources, involving policymakers and safety professionals.

“The first ASPC is based in Rwanda,” Boeing and AviAssist said. “The partnership will also support the foundation’s trainee program at the University of Rwanda, host of the ASPC-Rwanda and will help develop the safety exhibits at the ASPC-Rwanda.”

Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores joined Air Transport World as our London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief on 18 June 2012. Victoria has nearly 20 years’ aviation industry experience, spanning airline ground operations, analytical, journalism and communications roles.