Posted on: 18 November 2013 by Mark Howells
Ethiopian Airlines is to add four Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft to its fleet through lessor Palma Holding, which has placed four firm orders and taken four options for the type. The airline is also to become the first Authorized Service Facility (ASF) in Africa for the Q400.
Mesfin Tasew, COO of Ethiopian Airlines, noted that the company currently has 13 Q400s including those operating for its Asky subsidiary based in Lome, Togo. “We plan to expand fleet, not just at Ethiopian, but also with Asky and with Malawian Airlines which are going to start up soon.”
Asked about the potential for even further Q400 acuisitions, Tasew explained that Ethiopian has a strategy, the “Vision 2025 growth map”, which states that there should be about 26 turboprops in fleet by 2025. “But the fleet growth is currently faster than our plan, so we might need more,” he admitted. “Neither Asky nor Malawian Airlines were part of Vision 2025 when it was created, so having them will mean getting more aircraft.”
While Ethiopian’s Q400s serve 17 domestic destinations, the carrier has also been exploiting their potential to operate regionally. To do that Ethiopian decided to reconfigure the aircraft from single class to two-class, incorporate drop-down oxygen masks in order to fly over mountainous regions, and added hot galleys for passenger service.
The dual configuration was noted by Moulay Omar Alaoui, President, Palma Holding, in his comments about the lease deal. "We are very pleased to become the first Middle Eastern lessor for Bombardier's Q400 NextGen aircraft, and the first lessor worldwide for the aircraft's dual-class configuration," he emphasised.
To support its enlarging Q400 fleet, Tasew noted that Ethiopian has added a simulator to aid training to enable its growth plan “We’ve also enhanced our MRO capacity, not just for ourselves, but for all those we believe will operate Q400s in Africa – and we think there will be many.”
As a result of this, Bombardier Aerospace has granted Q400 Authorized Service Facility (ASF) status to Ethiopian, meaning the airline can now perform line and heavy maintenance on Q400 and Q400 NextGen aircraft under the Bombardier ASF banner.
Éric Martel, president of Bombardier Customer Services and Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, explained that discussions began about a year ago for Ethiopian to become an ASF. “Their commitment to excellence both in operations and maintenance services will benefit our operator base in the region and beyond, as a part of our network,” he commented.”
Photo shows (l-r): Mesfin Tasew, COO of Ethiopian Airlines and Moulay Omar Alaoui, President, Palma Holding.
Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net