Higher demand on Addis Windhoek route prompts Ethiopian Airlines to send their biggest aircraft on its maiden flight
Hosea Kutako International Airport was a hive of activity on Sunday when Ethiopian Airlines sent its newly acquired Boeing 787-900 on its maiden flight to Windhoek from Addis Ababa due to the increased number of passengers who travelled to Namibia on this specific flight.
Mesfin Gebre, Ethiopian Airlines’ Area Manager for Namibia, told the Economist they had to use their new 787-900 as the number of passengers exceeded 270 which is the maximum for the 787-800, the airliner that the airline usually deploys for the regular, scheduled flight from Addis to Windhoek. The 787-900 carries a maximum of 313 passengers. It left later that same day to return to Addis with the passengers it picked up at Hosea Kutako.
This was also the first time that a B787-900 Dreamliner has landed at Windhoek’s international airport. The aircraft was welcomed with the customary water salute from the canons of the fire fighting transports of the Namibia Airports Company, stationed at Hosea Kutako.
Gebre said Ethiopian Airlines’ new 787-900 is the only one of its kind on the African continent. “Ushering yet another travel experience, Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group and Skytrax certified Four Star Airline in Africa, has continued its technology leadership; owning and operating the one and only Africa’s B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft to different African cities,” he said.
Explaining the hype around the 787-900, Gebre said it features the latest aerodynamic design and materials. “Much of the aircraft’s structure is made of light-weight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). It is powered by new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. These advanced technological features translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency, with a 20% reduction in fuel burn and emissions in addition to significantly lower maintenance costs.”
The wingspan of the 787-900 is slightly longer for more fuel storage space which increases its endurance, making it ideal for longer range missions. The fuselage is some 6 metres longer than the 787-800 allowing room for 40 more passengers.
These features make the 787-900 more economical to operate, stated Gebre adding that their 787-900 Dreamliner is configured to offer 30 Cloud Nine business class seats and 283 economy class seats.