By Selene Brophy |

Cape TownEthiopian Airlines has announced plans to order a staggering 44 new aircraft, effectively doubling its 76-plane fleet in the face of rising air traffic as Africa’s economy sees steady growth.

The airline said in a press release, the move forms part of the African carrier’s “Vision 2025,” a fleet expansion plan that aims to add 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 14 A350-900s, six Boeing 787 Dreamliners, two Boeing 787-9s, and two 777-200F Boeing freighters to its fleet over the next decade.

The expansions news follows the recent announcement of the airline’s new direct routes from Addis Ababa to Cape Town and Gaborone.

The airline is also in the process of evaluating the Boeing 777X, Airbus 350-1000, and Bombardier Q400 aircraft, with the target to reach a 150-aircraft fleet by 2025

“Africa’s economy has grown at a rate of more than 4.5 percent per year over the past 10 years despite the global recession. In line with this growth, overall air traffic to and from Africa is expected to grow by about 6 percent annually over the next 20 years as new airplane technology increases efficiency and opens new international routes from high-altitude hot airports in Africa,” said Nigusu Worku Wordofa, regional director of the Americas for Ethiopian Airlines.

In the last year, Ethiopian Airlines said it had seen a 7% jump in air traffic, while “domestic travel has picked up at an estimated 20 percent year-over-year”, supplemented by strong in-country routes and other in-continent flight routes, such as those to South Africa, Kenya, the Republic of Sudan and Nigeria.

International traffic has experienced slower pick-up — just 3 percent year-over-year — but Worku notes that the airline sees heavy traffic on international routes to America and Dubai.

The airline also expects a further pick up in international traffic to and from countries that are destined to become main trade partners with Africa – such as India, China, and other Asian countries, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam, to name a few.

Ethiopian Airlines, and Etihad Airways are also among the international companies that have submitted expression of interest to the Rwandese government to buy stake on RwandAir. The prospective partner will own 49 percent stake on the East African airline and will jointly manage the airline and caters technical services.

Source: Traveller24
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