Ethiopian Airlines will add at least eight new aircraft to its fleet after signing an order with Boeing for new 777-9 planes, including options for 12 more. 

The airline becomes the first 777X customer in Africa with the order, which builds upon its recent record order for up to 67 planes in November, the largest Boeing order ever by an African carrier, and an agreement with Airbus for up to 17 A350-900s at the Dubai Airshow. 

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tasew said: “We are pleased to continue setting the trend in African aviation by adopting cutting-edge technologies to enhance our services and customer satisfaction. 

“Improving our operational performance and commitment to environmental sustainability, the 777-9 offers more flexibility, reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions.” 

The orders are part of the airline’s fleet growth and modernisation plans under its Vision 2035 Strategy, which aims to double its fleet and the destinations it offers in support of a targeted $25bn in revenue. 

The airline is already the biggest in Africa by many metrics but is hoping to become a global player, capitalising on the continent’s growth with air traffic expected to quadruple in the next two decades, according to Boeing’s Commercial Market Outlook. 

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Its expansion has also included taking on smaller airlines across the continent, including ongoing discussions with the Nigerian Government on taking on the country’s new flag carrier Nigeria Air with a 49% stake.