Ethiopian Airlines has converted its existing orders of A350-900 for larger planes, making it the first African carrier, yet again to own the largest variant of the Airbus A350 models.
Africa’s most profitable airline has swapped four of its remaining six A350-900 orders for the larger aeroplanes.
The aircraft will give the state-owned carrier a competitive edge over its African peers like Kenya Airways (KQ) and South African Airlines (SAA) in attracting passengers seeking new experiences while saving on fuel costs.
“The A350-1000 is the best fit for our dense routes, and we believe that the upsizing will be instrumental in satisfying the increasing demand of customers in our vast global network across five continents,” said Mesfin Tasew, the Ethiopian Airlines Group chief executive on Thursday.
The larger planes can carry about 369 passengers with a maximum limit of 480, while the A350-900 caters to the 300-350 passenger market segment.
Ethiopian had ordered 22 Airbus planes as part of its expansion plan, 16 of which it had already received, making it the first in Africa to use the A350 planes. The delivery timeline for the remaining four A350-1000 and two A350-900 has not been disclosed.
The carrier deploys its A350-900s on its long-haul routes connecting Addis Ababa with destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Asia.
High fuel prices have seen airlines globally retire old and mid-generation aircraft for more modern and fuel-efficient ones. The A350-1000s can reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions by 25 percent.
Ethiopian Airlines has the largest fleet in Africa, including Boeing and Bombardier planes.