In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, one might have expected that airline growth would have become stagnant. However, despite the challenging present aviation climate, carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines are continuing to expand their fleet. Yesterday, for example, Canadian manufacturer De Havilland announced it would be delivering two Dash 8-400s to Africa’s largest airline.
Short-haul milestonePlanespotters.net, are both the -400 model. This is the type’s largest variant. The delivery represents Ethiopian’s first new Dash 8 since De Havilland delivered ET-AXW in February.
We’re delighted to announce the delivery of @flyethiopian’s 30th Dash 8-400. We congratulate the airline on its phenomenal growth and success in increasing connectivity across Africa. Read more here: https://t.co/vRa0fCzzNI#Dash8 #avgeek pic.twitter.com/UKhg4EvJi5
— De Havilland Aircraft of Canada (@dehavillandAIR) October 23, 2020
Ethiopian Airlines has been utilizing the type since March 2010, and this delivery marks the milestone of the airline’s 30th Dash 8-400. It is the most common aircraft in its fleet, comfortably outranking the Boeing 787-8 ‘Dreamliner’ in second place. Ethiopian possesses 18 of this type for use on certain long-haul operations.
There are several reasons why the Dash 8-400 is an ideal airliner for Ethiopian’s regional operations within Africa. The airline’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde GebreMariam, stated in the press release that:
“The Dash 8-400 aircraft continues to provide the operational flexibility, exceptional performance capability, capacity and passenger comfort we need. Most importantly, the Dash 8-400 aircraft supports the cost leadership strategy we rely on in our market – particularly in these unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) October 23, 2020
De Havilland itself was also quick to praise Ethiopian’s expansion of its Dash 8-400 fleet, and not just in terms of the raw number of aircraft it possesses. Sameer Adam, the Canadian manufacturer’s Regional Vice President of Sales, explained:
“Ethiopian has taken tremendous positive steps to strengthen their capabilities with the acquisition of the first Dash 8-400 simulator for Africa and by recently adding a second simulator.”
Adam also states that Ethiopian Airlines has proved “the value of a business class configuration on regional aircraft in Africa.” While one might not expect to see a separate business class cabin on smaller aircraft that operate regional flights, Ethiopian sets itself apart by including one.
This appears to be a similar arrangement to short-haul European business class, in which business passengers have the same economy seat (30″ seat pitch, 17″ wide) but with a guaranteed empty spot adjacent to them. Nonetheless, it shows an admirable commitment on Ethiopian’s part to cater to all passenger types regardless of the routes on which they are traveling.
Multi-leg delivery route
With De Havilland being a Canadian-based manufacturer, ferrying the aircraft to Ethiopia will be an interesting and challenging logistical operation. Even empty, the Dash 8-400 would not have sufficient range to complete the journey in one go. Yesterday, ET-AXX and ET-AXY flew from De Havilland’s base in Toronto to Goose Bay, on Canada’s north-east coast.
This suggests that they will be taking the same route as when De Havilland delivered ET-AXW to Ethiopian in February. Between February 23rd and February 26th, the aircraft flew the following legs: Toronto – Goose Bay – Reykjavík – Manchester – Rome – Cairo – Addis Abada. It is certainly a challenging time for airlines to be expanding, so here’s to hoping that this move proves a success for Ethiopian.
How do you rate the Dash 8-400 as a regional airliner? Let us know your thoughts and experiences aboard the type in the comments.