Ethiopian dares to Dream

September 3, 2012

The Economist

AFRICA’S booming aviation industry reached another landmark in August when Ethiopian Airlines became the first carrier outside Japan to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (pictured), a state-of-the-art passenger jet. The introduction of the 787 to African skies could transform the nature of air travel across the continent—and even worldwide.

With its lightweight carbon-composite wings and fuselage, the 787 is 20% more fuel-efficient than the similar-sized Boeing 767, an existing industry workhorse. In a world where fuel typically accounts for around 30% of an airline’s total costs, such efficiency is extremely attractive, and Ethiopian has ordered ten planes.

The carrier’s arch-rivals, Kenya Airways and Nigeria’s Arik Air, have not stood idly by: they have ordered nine and seven of the 787s respectively. But theirs won’t be delivered for years, as severe supply-chain delays mean Boeing’s backlog of the Dreamliner has reached an eye-watering 841 planes. In the meantime, Ethiopian can enjoy the significant cost advantages that accrue from being among the 787’s first operators.

Read more from The Economist