Ethiopian plans order for 10-20 narrowbody jets – CEO

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Addis Ababa, 21 January 2014 (WIC) - Ethiopian Airlines is looking at placing an order for 10-20 narrowbody jets, its chief executive told Reuters on Monday.   

Such an order would be worth $1-2 billion at list prices.   

Ethiopian will probably study proposals from Boeing, Airbus and Canada's Bombardier, a new entrant to the market for roughly 150-seat aircraft, Tewolde Gebremariam said.   

The airline, which plans to increase its revenues five-fold to $10 billion by 2025, is separately evaluating Boeing's latest wide-body jet, the 406-seat 777X, but has no immediate plans to place an order, he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Airlines Economics conference in Dublin, he also downplayed concerns over the Boeing 787 Dreamliner following new glitches on the high-tech jet which was grounded over battery problems last year.

A Japan Airlines (JAL) Boeing 787 Dreamliner was grounded last week after white smoke vented from the plane and a battery cell showed signs of melting.

"We've never had any problems with the batteries," Tewolde said. Ethiopian operates five Dreamliners.   

An Ethiopian 787 which caught fire at London's Heathrow last year resumed service last month without any penalty in performance following repairs to its carbon-fibre fuselage, he said.   

The fire has been widely linked to small batteries in an emergency beacon but UK authorities have yet to publish their official on the incident.

Tewolde said load factors, or the proportion of seats sold, had increased when Ethiopian put the 787 on new routes, such as Frankfurt and London. (Reuters)

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