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Ethiopian Airlines expands Boeing 737 MAX fleet 5 years after fatal crash

Boeing Co. Senior Vice President Brad McMullen, nd Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tasew hold Boeing aircraft models at the Dubai Air Show, UAE, November 14 2023.   -  
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Jon Gambrell/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

United Arab Emirates

Ethiopian Airlines announced, on Tuesday, a deal with Boeing that will see the company buy 20 737 MAX aircraft, as well as 11 additional 787 Dreamliners during the Dubai Air Show.

The east African airline CEO Mesfin Tasew, says it's only the beginning.

"This is just the first phase. We expect to do another round of fleet renewal process in the coming a few years, which we expect to order additional aeroplanes."

According to Tasew, Ethiopian Airlines expects to exercise options to purchase another 21 of the narrow-body planes. It also has purchasing options for a further 15 787-9 Dreamliner jets.

The airline will announce an order for wide-body jets, either the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350, in the coming months, he said, declining to say how many wide-body jets it would order.

Asked about the 2019 MAX crash, Mesfin Tasew speaks of renewed confidence in the single-aisle aircraft.

"The accident on the max (737-max) that happened before four years was a very, very sad accident. It has left a big scar in our memory, and we always feel sad for the victims of that accident. We have checked and confirmed that the design defect of that aircraft has been fully corrected by Boeing, and we have renewed our confidence in that aircraft."

The March 2019 737 MAX crash shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa killed all 157 people on board.

It was the second involving a Boeing MAX in less than five months, and led to a worldwide grounding of all MAX jets for nearly two years.

The accidents exposed a problem with a system on the plane, and the model was grounded worldwide, costing the U.S. plane-maker some $20 billion and prompting court cases that exposed shortcomings with the certification process.

Boeing described the sale as the largest-ever purchase of Boeing aeroplanes in African history, without disclosing a price point for the deal.

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