No strangers to Dublin Airport, Ethiopian Airlines used Dublin as a technical stop on routes from Addis Ababa to Washington, Los Angeles & New York and on the return sectors. Most of this activity has of course ceased due to travel restrictions. However, two aircraft from the Ethiopian fleet recently visited Dublin Airport within a week of each other.
Ethiopian Airlines has grown into an African powerhouse when it comes to fleet size and route network. This development seems at odds with the image of the stricken country portrayed only a couple of decades ago. Famine, drought, civil unrest & dire economic stability were just some of the issues blighting the East African nation.
Fast forward to within the last 10 years and fortunes have drastically changed – There are almost 130 modern aircraft in the fleet, a very respected fleet at that, comprising of 16 A350-900’s, 19 B777’s and 27 B787 Dreamliners! What a turn-around. All those ‘Trocaire Box’ collections (charity donations) must have helped.
And the fleet is continuing to swell. The latest addition, a Boeing 737-804SF (ET-AYL) recently converted to freighter aircraft, used Dublin as a stop-over during the delivery flight from the US. The conversion from passenger 737 to freighter took place at Miami International Airport, after which the aircraft was flown to Dothan Regional in Alabama. Its from Dothan the ferry flight to Ethiopia commenced on 23rd of March departing at 13:48 for a 1hr 45min flight to Dulles Airport Washington. After an overnight at Dulles, ET-AYL set off on its Atlantic crossing at 10:24, arriving at Dublin Airport after 6hr 27min, landing at 20:51
After another overnight, it was a 12:04 departure on the 25th of March for the new freighter, en route for Addis Ababa, where it landed 7hr 50min later. Not the first 737-800 freighter in the Ethiopian fleet, ET-AYL joins two others and up to nine B777 freighters with the airline.
A couple of days later on 27th of March, ET-AYL performed its first commercial flight as a cargo aircraft for Ethiopian Airlines, from Addis Ababa to Kinshasa - the Democratic Republic of the Congo taking 4hr 07min before returning to its base that evening. The following day saw ET-AYL encounter some drama, while flying Addis Ababa to Harare – Zimbabwe the 737 diverted to Lusaka – Zambia.
This 737-800 started out with Britannia Airways in 2002 and had a spell with Thomsonfly as G-CDZN. Pegasus was its last passenger service as TC-CPP.
Sistership ET-ARJ, a B777F visited Dublin (first visit) shortly after the new B737 departed. On 29th of March the big brute landed at 19:20 and departed several hours later at 23:35. Good things often occur in three’s, so anytime now.
Images by Matteo Lamberts (B777F) & Mel Byrne (B737F)