Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) is in final negotiations for an order for twenty A220s and intends to sign a contract by the end of 2019, CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told Bloomberg.

The carrier intends to deploy the Airbus Canada jets to secondary mid-haul destinations which are currently served as parts of more complex itineraries (such as Gaborone, currently served via Victoria Falls on the outbound leg) or where demand does not justify using larger jets (such as Windhoek Int'l, currently served with B787s).

Ethiopian Airlines does not currently operate any regional jets. The carrier's regional fleet includes twenty-one Dash 8-400s (and a further nine on firm order), while its narrowbody passenger fleet encompasses four B737-700s and eighteen B737-800s. The airline also has four grounded B737-8s and a further twenty-five units on order from Boeing.

GebreMariam said that Ethiopian Airlines will be "the last to resume" B737 MAX operations, given the fact that the crash of the airline's ET-AVJ (msn 62450) in March 2019 sparked the global grounding of the type.

"It's only natural for us to be the last one to decide on the MAX. If we're convinced the problems are fully addressed, and that the re-certification is done in a collaborative manner with all regulators, then we will take the time, effort and energy to convince our pilots, crew and passengers that the aircraft is safe to get back in the air," GebreMariam said.

Besides the Dash 8s and the B737s, Ethiopian Airlines also operates seven B767-300(ER)s, six B777-200(LR)s, four B777-300(ER)s, nineteen B787-8s, and four B787-9s, as well as a fleet of freighters including two B737-800(F)s and ten B777-Fs.

He added that the airline was struggling with issues related to repatriating revenues from certain African countries, such as Angola, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Eritrea. According to the CEO, Ethiopian Airlines currently has nearly USD100 million locked in these countries.