As ever, airlines are keen to promote the fact that they deploy the latest aircraft models and indeed the latest models do have advantages in terms of capacity and efficiency.
An increasing number of airports are operating close to capacity in terms of available slots, so many airlines are responding by ordering larger aircraft, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A380. Such planes allow companies to transport more passengers with the same number of slots.
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is a wide-bodied, mid-size aircraft that can carry up to 290 passengers. The US firm advertises that it consumes 20% less fuel than its similar 767. Ethiopian Airlines is to receive the first of 10 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in August this year, as a result of an order placed seven years ago. The first two planes will serve routes from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg and Guangzhou in China, while another five will be delivered by the end of next year. Other African airlines will take delivery of the new model over the next few years.
Chief executive Tewolde Gebre Mariam said: “All of Ethiopia is excited about the delivery of our first Dreamliners and the whole country can be proud of being the first in all of Africa to receive this game changing airplane. Taking this step forward before so many other airlines is a true testament to our drive to be the aviation leader in Africa and beyond.” Ethiopian has also ordered 12 Airbus A350 wide body planes, plus six 777 freight carriers and 10 737-800s from Boeing for delivery later this decade. In the much shorter term, the airline is also set to take delivery of five new Bombardier Q400s in the final quarter of this year, following on from the successful commissioning of eight Bombardier planes in 2010.
Kenya Airways has increased the number of its Embraer aircraft to 10, following the delivery of three E190s from Air Lease Corporation. The aircraft are used on domestic and regional flights, allowing the airline to use its larger wide-bodied planes on long-haul routes.
The company’s chief executive, Titus Naikuni, said: “With a four-hour flight range, Embraer is a versatile aircraft that we have identified as suitable for our plans to consolidate our presence on African routes. It has indeed proved very valuable in supporting our ongoing growth plans for Africa.”
Brazilian firm Embraer has had great success in marketing smaller aircraft to African customers over the past five years and it is likely to increase its market share over the decade up to 2020. Despite the rise of low-cost airlines, many companies now put a great deal more effort into promoting the additional services that they offer on board, including flat beds, bars and in-flight entertainment, particular in first and business class.
In July, Air Nigeria announced that it would be the first African carrier to offer an iPad 3 to all passengers in business class in order to view local and international films. Andy McEwan, the chief executive of UK supplier IFE Services, said: “The iPad is a great portable solution that we know passengers will love to use whilst airborne.”
Kinfe Kahssaye, the chief executive of Air Nigeria, added: “We are pleased to offer our passengers this unique product to ensure they are relaxed and enjoy first-class entertainment on our flights, using state of the art technology.”