Ethiopian Airlines confirms it has placed an order valued at $767 million at list prices for 10 Boeing 737-800s. The order previously was listed...

Ethiopian Airlines confirms it has placed an order valued at $767 million at list prices for 10 Boeing 737-800s. The order previously was listed on Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries website as being from an unidentified customer.

Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the carrier is investing in the additional aircraft to expand its fleet and broaden its network. Ethiopian says it selected the Boeing 737-800s for its short-haul and medium-range operations in Africa and the Middle East to support growing market demand.

Confirmation of the order came days after Ethiopian Airlines saw the launch of ASKY Airlines, a new Togolese airline based in Lome. Ethiopian Airlines owns a 25 per cent stake in ASKY Airlines, which is leasing its initial fleet of two Boeing 737s from Ethiopian. The venture realizes Ethiopian’s long-held desire to create a hub in West Africa.

The new airline began commercial services on January 15 with flights to Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire and Banjul in the Gambia. ASKY reportedly intends to increase its initial network to 12 destinations. It is not yet clear if Ethiopian will lease make any of the 10 737-800s from its new order available to ASKY.

Ethiopian Airlines has ordered 10 Boeing 737-800s to operate on short- and medium-haul routes along with to two 737-800s and two 737-700s already in service. It has leased two of its existing 737s to new Togolese carrier ASKY Airlines, in which Ethiopian Airlines has a 25 per cent stake

“Since its founding in December 1945, Ethiopian Airlines has been a dedicated Boeing operator ― from [the carrier’s] first flights using DC-3 propeller-driven airplanes between Addis Ababa and Cairo, to recent orders for the long haul 787s and 777-200LRs, and continuing now with 737-800s,” says Marlin Dailey, vice president of sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Ethiopian Airlines has been among the most profitable airlines in the region and one of our most valued partners.”

In 2009, Ethiopian Airlines became the first African carrier to order and operate the ultra-long-range Boeing 777-200LR. Ethiopian also was the first African carrier to order the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, ordering 10 in 2005.

“The Boeing Next-Generation 737 has proven to be a reliable and profitable component of our fleet,” says Ato Girma Wake, Ethiopian Airlines’ chief executive officer . “Boeing has been an important and valued partner to Ethiopian for many, many years. This order reinforces the deep ties between our two companies.”

Ethiopian Airlines is currently an all-Boeing operator, though it has ordered 12 Airbus A350 XWB long-haul widebodies for delivery from 2017. With the exception of the 747, Ethiopan has operated every heritage Boeing commercial aircraft since the 707. The airline operates five 737-700s and two 737-800s. Ethiopian also operates nine Boeing 757s, 10 Boeing 767s and one MD-11BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter), with a second MD-11BCF arriving in August.

The Addis Ababa-based carrier currently has a fleet of 37 aircraft and firm orders for 45  more, including eight Bombardier Q400 turboprops to begin arriving in March 2010, five 777-200LRs to be delivered starting in November, 10 787s slated to begin arriving in July 2011 and 12 A350s set scheduled for delivery in 2017. It will use the Q400s for domestic and regional services.

Ethiopian Airlines, one of the largest and fastest-growing airlines in Africa, made its maiden flight to Cairo in 1946. With the recent addition of flights to Mombasa and Monrovia, Ethiopian operates services to 35 cities in Africa and a total of 56 international destinations throughout four continents.