Ethiopian Airlines to continue Boeing partnership

Battle for the skies as Ethiopian moves to tighten grip on US route

The boss of Ethiopian Airlines said he still “believes in Boeing” in spite of a crash involving the US firm’s 737 Max plane which killed 157 people.

“Despite the tragedy, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines will continue to be linked well into the future” said Tewolde Gebremariam. In a statement outlining the close ties between the Ethiopian and US airline industries, Mr Tewolde said: “Let me be clear: Ethiopian Airlines believes in Boeing. They have been a partner of ours for many years.”

Mr. Tewolde disclosed that more than two-thirds of the airline’s fleet is made up of planes manufactured by Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines also has an additional 25 Max 737 aircraft on order with Boeing, after taking delivery of five of the planes. “We were the first African airline to fly the 767, 757, 777-200LR, and we were the second nation in the world (after Japan) to take delivery of the 787 Dreamliner,” he added.

He said, “Less than a month ago, we took delivery of yet another new two 737 cargo planes (a different version from the one that crashed). The plane that crashed was less than five months old.”


Ethiopian Airlines underlined its commitment to the close ties with Boeing even though questions remained about its 737 MAX 8 model, after a crash shortly after takeoff this month killed 157 people. Boeing has come under intense scrutiny since the crash, the second in five months involving its new 737 MAX 8 model.

“We pledge to work with Boeing and our colleagues in all the airlines to make air travel even safer,” he said, although he added: “Many questions on the B-737 MAX airplane remain without answers.”

He said he did not want to speculate on the cause of the crash, but defended the airline’s training programme. Tewolde grounding flights of the plane model was the correct one, it would ensure no more lives were put at risk.

Tewolde defended the airline’s training programme, insisting that both pilots of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines were well-trained professionals. The airline has an elaborate aviation academy that annually trains in excess of 2000 pilots, flight attendants, maintenance crew and other workers for Ethiopian Airlines and other African carriers.

“We are the company others turn to for aviation expertise,” said the CEO, adding the company had invested more than $500 million in the last five years in training and other infrastructure in their Addis Ababa base.

The captain of the ill-fated flight had reported difficulties with the aircraft with intentions to make an emergency landing when ET 302 crashed. “This tragedy won’t define us.  We pledge to work with Boeing and our colleagues in all the airlines to make air travel even safer. As the largest aviation Group on the continent of Africa, we represent The New Spirit of Africa and will continue to move forward. We are rated as a 4-star global airline with a high safety record and member of Star Alliance.  That will not change,” GebreMariam said.




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