Ethiopian Airlines has become the first carrier outside Japan to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a state-of-the-art passenger jet.
The introduction of the Boeing 787 in Malawi took place at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe at a function graced by deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works Sosten Gwengwe and Minister of Tourism Daniel Liwimbi.
The American-made carrier, the long-range, mid-size, wide body, twin engine jet airliner, touched down at exactly 2:45pm from Tanzania on its maiden flight and was flown by Captain Lance Lindsley.
Upon touchdown, the 787 was jet-sprayed by a fire engine from the Fire Department before the passengers descended.
â€œEthiopian Airways has done Malawi and Africa pride,â€ said Liwimbi after a tour of the plane accompanied by Gwengwe.
According to captain Lindsley, the 787 has a 14 200 kilometre range, roughly equivalent to a 20-hour non-stop flight.
â€œNot only that, with its lightweight carbon-composite wings and fuselage, the 787 is 20 percent more fuel efficient than the similar size Boeing 767,â€ explained Lindsley, adding that the Dreamliner is environmental-friendly because of its low carbon emissions.
Ethiopian Airlines area manager Jafar Hamid said the company has ordered 10 planes, but so far Boeing has delivered only one.
â€œWe hope by September next year, all the planes will have been delivered. This type of plane will help cut fuel costs because of its efficiency,â€ he said.
The 10 new 787s have been bought with a $1 billion (K290 billion) loan guarantee from Americaâ€™s Export-Import Bank and it is currently tendering for an additional 15 single-aisle jets to solidify its African presence.
It is unusual among State-owned African airlines to raise its own debt and finance its own expansion without government cash
â€œEthiopian is well managed and has consistently exceeded the profit targets set out in its strategy plans,â€ said Hamid, explaining the success of Ethiopian Airliner.
The Dreamliner takes 260 passengers, 24 in business class and 236 in economy class.