“We don’t have specific time frame [to increase the order], but in our Vision 2025 plan, the A350 fleet should grow to about 25 aircraft. The first of our 14-ordered A350-900s should be delivered in the second quarter of 2016,” he said.
Under Ethiopian’s Vision 2025 strategic plan, it is establishing itself as an aviation group with seven business units—international airline, regional airline, cargo, MRO, aviation academy, catering services and ground services. Collectively, by 2025, these units should be generating about $10 billion in revenue.
The Ethiopian flag carrier is the first African A350 XWB operator. Of the 14 aircraft, 12 are directly purchased from Airbus and two are on lease from AerCap.
Gebremariam said the current A350 entry-into-service process is on track. “Regarding the network, our A350 fleet will fly on all our routes depending on commercial needs,” he said.
The Star Alliance carrier is also considering extending its training center to add an A350 simulator. “We have already started discussions with Airbus and CAE,” Gebremariam explained.
He also told ATW the carrier will offer an all-woman-operated round-trip flight from Addis Ababa to Bangkok on Nov. 19. “This flight will be fully handled by women on the ground—including baggage handling, maintenance and engineering, load control, flight planning, cargo handling, ramp coordination—and inflight, it will be operated by a female captain and co-pilot, cabin crew and flight technicians,” he explained.
The carrier said in a statement that gender equality will be an important issue in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Ethiopian Airlines is already on board with this initiative.