Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) is planning to order around five B777 freighters and could add "some" A350Fs to the mix, Chief Executive Tewolde GebreMariam told Bloomberg.

He did not specify whether the airline was considering adding more B777-200Fs or rather ordering B777X freighters, once Boeing confirms the development.

Tewolde underlined that Ethiopian Airlines is planning to permanently increase cargo's role in its business even after the current market distortion caused by the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Pre-2020, freight accounted for around 15% of its total revenue inflows. Currently, that figure is up to around 50% and is the "breadwinner" for the airline, guaranteeing that it stays cash-positive, Tewolde stressed. In the long-term, once things stabilise, he expects that number to settle at around 30%. The airline's core market is the Africa-China route with Addis Ababa poised to be a main transhipment hub.

"We are building a new e-commerce warehouse in the cargo terminal. E-commerce is growing especially between China and Africa, and we want to continue the leadership," he stressed.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that Ethiopian Airlines' dedicated freighter fleet comprises three B737-800(SF)s and nine B777-200Fs. It also deploys at least six A350-900s and one DHC-8-Q400 on cargo-only routes.

Tewolde said the Ethiopian Aviation Holding Group's new joint venture project with the Congolese government, Air Congo, is close to launching. In late 2021, authorities in Kinshasa hinted at a possible first quarter of 2022 debut.

He also noted that Ethiopian is no longer considering ordering A220s for the time being. The airline was rumoured to be interested in the type as recently as 2020, but Tewolde stressed that the plan has now been shelved indefinitely. The carrier's regional fleet currently comprises twenty-six DHC-8-Q400s, with the next type by size being the B737 Family.

Editorial Comment: The original source of the interview has been amended. - 26.01.2022 - 13:31 UTC