Ethiopian Airlines is on a roll, maintaining profitability through the pandemic and a growing fleet, further increasing its opportunity for success. One bit holding the carrier back, according to Group CEO Mesfin Tasew, is the hard product on the carrier’s oldest 787s. And the carrier has plans to solve that problem.
It has become old. That is why we are investing to upgrade the cabin with the new technology that is available.– Mesfin Tasew, Ethiopian Group CEO
New business class coming to Ethiopian 787s
New 787 deliveries, including one just earlier this month, come with the newer business class on board. It offers flat beds, a 1-2-1 layout, and direct aisle access for all passengers. The first ten Dreamliners in the carrier’s fleet, however, fly with an angled-flat 2-2-2 configuration.
The mixed configuration creates problems for the carrier in delivering a consistent, quality passenger experience, and Tasew very much recognizes the challenge. Speaking on the sidelines of Future Travel Experience EMEA in Dublin last week he only slightly was joking as he explained the justification for the retrofit works, “One day, a passenger will fly with us [on the new configuration] and say, ‘Ahh, this is the best business class.’ Then they fly the old version and say they want their money back.”
In addition to swapping the seats up front, Ethiopian will upgrade the inflight entertainment system on board. The original system “is very, very old technology,” Tasew notes, “and in the IFE world the technology is changing very rapidly.” Brighter, sharper, lighter screens are coming, too.
The retrofit program will, unfortunately, likely not start until early 2025. Tasew explains that Ethiopian is ready to start the works immediately, but supply chain and staffing challenges remain very real across the aviation world. Tasew pushes the delay on to suppliers, noting Boeing and other manufacturers “need a longer time to develop the engineering work and get certified.”
Fortunately, with just 10 planes to retrofit, Tasew expects the work to be completed within six months once it begins.
Mostly status quo in economy class
While the sub-par business class product is on the way out, Tasew is very proud of the existing economy class product on board. “That seat is good,” he explained. “It only needs a refurbishing, not replacement.”
But the cabin will not be completely ignored. The IFE screens in the back will also be refreshed. The seats will also see a light touch, with new dress covers and replacement of the cushions where appropriate.
The in-flight Wi-Fi service, powered by Inmarsat‘s GX Aviation product, will not change as part of the works.
More news from Future Travel Experience EMEA 2023
- Alaska Airlines, American Airlines to deliver integrated app check-in option
- Ethiopian plans Dreamliner upgrades
- Sir Tim Clark expects IFEC, seats to help trim Emirates’ emissions
- Pricing tweaks ahead for Spirit’s in-flight Wi-Fi
- TagsForLife proposes RFID bag tags, without a barcode backup
- Nourish proposes an inflight catering revolution
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.