The national flag carrier Ethiopian Airlines has sold its five Fokker 50s aircraft to the Singapore based aviation company
as part of a move to modernize its fleet, Capital has learnt.
The airliner is also contemplating leasing or purchasing more Q400 Bombardier aircraft.
“We have sold all Fokker 50s to Fortran Aviation limited company based in Singapore,” Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian Chief Executive Officer, told Capital.
Fortran Aviation founded in Singapore in 2008, is a certified supplier of aircraft and engine parts with a growing focus on Asian market. The turboprop-powered Fokker 50s are to be operated by an Indonesian new start up airline Pacific Royale, according to Tewolde. “The first aircraft is to be delivered on or about December 31, 2011,” added Ethiopian CEO Tewolde.
The airliner has not made other details of the sale public. However, the Fokker 50s, manufactured by the Dutch aircraft maker, are speculated to be worth about seven million dollars in the latest deal. The planes that carry up to 58 passengers served Ethiopian for more than ten years.
According to the CEO, while Ethiopian is selling the Fokker 50s, it is also contemplating purchasing or leasing more Q400 Bombardiers. Ethiopian acquired eight Q400 aircrafts valued at 192 million dollars in 2010.
The airline deployed the aircraft on domestic and regional routes which were previously served by the Fokker 50s aircraft put out of service to also satisfy the European regulators that put stringent guidelines to African operators such as not to operate old fleet to avoid incidents.
The possible lease or purchase of the Q400 is in the early stages, according to the CEO: “there is some discussion but it may not be an outright purchase. It may also be a long term lease.”
Ethiopian currently operates one of the world’s youngest fleet. It has 48 aircraft including five Boeing 777-200 LRs. It has another 35 aircraft on order including ten 787-8 DreamLiners from Boeing and twelve A350-900s from Airbus.
Solidifying its dominance in Africa where it was named the most profitable airline in 2010 for a third time in a row, Ethiopian joined the Star Alliance group on December 2011. It became the third African-based carrier to join the alliance along with EgyptAir and South African Airways.
Increasing its presence in the Middle East, Ethiopian on December 27, 2011 commenced new nonstop flights from Addis Ababa to Muscat, the capital of Oman.
“We are pleased that Ethiopian is starting the service at the time the Arab League Tourism Ministers’ nominate Muscat as ‘Arab Tourism Capital 2012’,” said Ethiopian CEO Tewolde in a statement.
Muscat is Ethiopian’s 7th destination in the Middle East and 63rd worldwide.