Ethiopian Airlines has converted options for four Airbus A350-900s into the larger -1000, Airbus has announced today. Ethiopian Airlines converts four A350-900s into -1000s.

The African carrier currently operates eighteen -900s, of which two are leased from AerCap and sixteen are from the direct order for 22 aircraft. Back in 2009, Ethiopian ordered twelve A350-900s but it placed a follow-on order for ten in 2017. The type is in service with the airline since July 2016. 

Ethiopian has been considering the -1000 for some years, comparing it to the Boeing 777X. It has now made the decision to upsize its Airbus order to include the A350-1000, becoming the first airline in Africa to get this version. “We are delighted over the upsizing of the A350-900 on order to the largest variant, A350-1000, that helps us stay ahead of the curve in technology,” says Group CEO Mesfin Tasew in a media statement. “The A350-1000 is the best fit for our dense routes, and we believe that the upsizing will be instrumental in satisfying the increasing demand of customers in our vast global network across five continents.”

The statement doesn’t say when Ethiopian will take delivery of the first -1000. Airbus has four A350-1000s in various stages of completion that were destined for Qatar Airways, but deliveries of these aircraft have been suspended since Airbus and Qatar have entered a legal case over paint quality issues and the airworthiness of these aircraft. Three of the A350-1000s have already flown, the third one as recently as on June 9, but it is believed they are all in storage now. It isn’t confirmed that Ethiopian will get these aircraft or brand new ones.

Ethiopian’s widebody passenger fleet consists of six Boeing 777-200s and four -300ERs that are between eight and eleven years old. Three 767-300ERs are even eighteen years old. With the A350-1000s, the airline will be able to replace some of these older Boeings with new technology aircraft.

Airbus said on Thursday in its earnings call that it is in discussion with suppliers about ramping up the production rate of the A350 to five per month from early 2023. The airframer has been successful recently in selling the new A350F and sold twelve A350-1000s in June to Qantas as part of their Project Sunrise.

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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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