Addis Ababa - Ethiopian Airlines considers adding Chinese COMAC C919 to its fleet. The African carrier has formed a joint committee with the Chinese manufacturer to examine the suitability of the aircraft to the Ethiopian fleet.
"Our engineers are working with COMAC engineers to evaluate the suitability of C919 passenger planes. Ethiopian is currently considering adding the C919 planes to its aircraft fleet when the airplanes are ready for sales," Chief Executive Tewolde Gebremariam told Chinese news agency Xinhua
Gebremariam also confirmed that the future cooperation of the two companies wouldn't be limited to aircraft orders. The airline is in talks with the Chinese government to transform Addis Ababa an aviation technology hub in Africa.
"Ethiopian Airlines is working with the Chinese government to make Addis Ababa an aviation hub between China and Africa. Addis Ababa will not only be a transfer point for air traffic and cargo, but also a hub for the growth of Chinese aviation technology in Africa," Gebremariam added.
Ethiopian Airlines currently operates daily scheduled passenger and cargo flights from Addis Ababa to Guangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
The C919 is China's first in-house built passenger plane. The development program was launched in 2008 and the aircraft carried out its maiden flight on May 5, 2017. The plane is still under certification.
COMAC's C919 has so far accumulated 305 orders with 703 options. Its customers are mainly Chinese airline operators. First commercial deliveries will begin in 2021 with launch customer China Eastern Airlines.
The aircraft is intended to compete with the Airbus's A320neo family jets and Boeing's 737 MAX series jets.
On April 5, Ethiopian CEO said that its company would cancel an existing order for 25 Boeing 737 MAX 8 after one of its jets of the same type crashed in Addis Ababa during takeoff.
Boeing admitted both Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes were due to the aircraft's anti-stall system known as MCAS.