Ethiopian Airlines has sold its five Fokker 50 regional turboprops to Fortran Aviation Limited, and is negotiating with Bombardier to replace them with five new Q400 turboprops.
Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Oficer Tewolde Gebremariam said the aircraft were sold so that the airline could buy new aircraft. He added that the aircraft were transferred at the end of last year.
Earlier this month Singapore-based aircraft and engine parts company Fortran said the five Fokker 50s were being sold on to the Indonesian start up airline Pacific Royale. The five aircraft were manufactured between 1995 and 1997 and were sold by Ethiopian after a decade of use to ensure compliance with European safety regulators, which release strict guidelines to African operators not to operate old aircraft.
After selling the Fokker 50s, Ethiopian is planning to acquire five more Bombardier Q400 regional turboprops. Gebremariam said a deal to acquire more Q400s is still in the early stages of negotiation, and inside sources say Ethiopian has been negotiating with Bombardier for several months.
“The two parties are now discussing the details of the purchase contract. Hopefully, it would be concluded in the coming couple of months,” a senior executive at Ethiopian told Ethiopia’s The Reporter last month.
The Canadian manufacturer said it was not allowed to discuss possible sales but would make a formal announcement following a firm order.
Ethiopian Airlines ordered eight Q400s in November 2008 for US$192 million. The first aircraft arrived in March 2010 and began replacing the carrier’s Fokker 50s.
Ethiopian has around 40 aircraft on order as it implements its vigorous fleet renewal project. Ethiopian has an order for ten Dreamliners and will be the first African airline to receive the aircraft, when the first 787 arrives in the second quarter of 2012. Ethiopian plans to use the 787 to expand its existing destinations as well as its presence in more markets worldwide, including new destinations in the Far East.
The airline currently operates eleven 767-300s, with eight of the type slated for retirement by 2016. It also operates five 777-200LRs, eight 757-200ERs, five 737-700s, five 737-800s and eight Bombardier Q400s. It intends expanding its jet fleet to 112 by 2025.
In December 2011 Ethiopian joined the Star Alliance and plans to strengthen its route network in Singapore, South Korea and China. It is also planning to open new routes to the United States and Canada.