Ethiopian Air­lines un­de­cided on fur­ther 737 de­liv­er­ies de­spite ‘trust’ in the Boeing record

The National - News - - BUSINESS - Deena Kamel

Ethiopian Air­lines, which suf­fered a crash of one of its Boeing 737 Max jets in March, has yet to make a de­ci­sion on whether it will take de­liv­ery of its re­main­ing or­der of the grounded nar­row-body planes, its chief ex­ec­u­tive said.

The air­line will make a de­ci­sion once the air­craft re­turns to ser­vice, Te­wolde Ge­bremariam said at the Dubai Air­show yes­ter­day. Ethiopian Air­lines is still eval­u­at­ing Boeing’s fixes to the em­bat­tled jet.

“It’s work in progress and we’re work­ing to­gether but it’s not yet com­plete, so we have to see it com­pleted and also the re­sults of fur­ther tests that they’re go­ing to make,” he said.

The air­line has grounded its fleet of four 737 Max jets after the model was in­volved in two fa­tal crashes in In­done­sia and Ethiopia within a span of five months, killing 346 peo­ple. Boeing is work­ing on changes to the air­craft and ex­pects re-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the jet by the US aviation reg­u­la­tor next month. The plane man­u­fac­turer is speak­ing to cus­tomers at the Dubai Air­show this week about its ef­forts to re­turn the Max to com­mer­cial ser­vice in Jan­uary.

Ethiopian Air­lines and Boeing are dis­cussing the ar­range­ments for com­pen­sa­tion from the ground­ing of its Max fleet, the chief ex­ec­u­tive said, de­clin­ing to re­veal the value.

“We’ve been part­ners for the life of the air­line, start­ing from the McDon­nell Dou­glas [jets], so it’s a com­plex and long­time re­la­tion­ship,” he said.

Asked for his views on Boeing’s han­dling of the Max cri­sis and what the plane maker could have done dif­fer­ently, he said: “Its work in progress, so let’s wait pa­tiently and see the fi­nal re­turn to ser­vice.”

Ethiopian Air­lines, whose fis­cal year runs from July to June, has recorded “good” growth in the first half of the year, de­spite the ground­ing of its Max fleet and a slow­down in air cargo vol­umes.

“It’s not only the ground­ing, the mar­ket is slow­ing down, es­pe­cially on the freighter and cargo mar­ket, but un­der those cir­cum­stances, it’s been good,” he said.

Ethiopian Air­lines ex­pects its rev­enue and pas­sen­ger traf­fic to grow in the sin­gle-dig­its in the sec­ond half of the year, Mr Ge­bremariam said.

“The sec­ond half is slack sea­son for us, so we will see,” he said.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive’s com­ments came after Ethiopian Air­lines and the US plane maker held a press con­fer­ence at the bi­en­nial expo to an­nounce a 787 ser­vices agree­ment. Un­der the deal, Boeing will retro­fit in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity for Ethiopian Air­lines’ 787 Dream­liner fleet.

It will pro­vide en­gi­neer­ing, de­sign and project man­age­ment for the mod­i­fi­ca­tion along with on-site tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and train­ing for the air­line’s in-house main­te­nance, re­pair and op­er­a­tions ser­vice team.

Asked if there was ap­pre­hen­sion in sign­ing a deal with Boeing, Mr Ge­bremariam said the agree­ment in­volved the 787 wide-body and that the air­line’s trust in Boeing is still in­tact.

“Boeing is a 100 year-old, high-qual­ity en­gi­neer­ing com­pany, so we have to trust,” he said.

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