A week ago, Ethiopian Airlines became the first African airline, and second worldwide outside of Japan, to receive the latest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
One day after touching down at Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport, its first commercial assignment was the one-and-a-half hour flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport.
The Dreamliner is part of Ethiopian's commitment to deliver services to the African market using the latest technologically advanced aircraft.
"Kilimanjaro is a major tourist destination with huge economic significance for Tanzania and part of Ethiopian's extensive network in Africa. Ethiopian operates 28 weekly flights to Tanzania; daily to Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar and twice daily to Dar es Salaam, and connects these cities to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US via its hub, Addis Ababa," the airline said.
The choice of Kilimanjaro as its first airport of call offers a hint as to the airline's strategy to woo tourists through Addis. It has tried to maintain its grip on this route using the Dreamliner 787-8 model, edging out Kenya Airways' Embraer 90 series and Precision Airlines' French-made ATR fleet.
"We celebrate yet another first with the cutting-edge 787-9 joining our growing fleet. Today, the 787 is the core of our fleet with 20 aircraft in service. We will continue to invest in the most advanced aircraft to give our customers the best possible travel experience. This new aircraft will complement Ethiopian's existing fleet of 787-8 aircraft," Tewolde GebreMariam, the group chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines, said.
Ethiopian Airline's main competitor, Kenya Airways, has also silently introduced the Dreamliner 787-8 to the Nairobi-Lagos leg, a prime route that has consistently delivered results within its regional network.
The airline's recent schedule update showed that it was increasing the route's capacity, which has been served by a Boeing 787-8 since mid-August. The aircraft serves two of seven weekly flights to the Nigerian commercial capital, on Fridays and Sundays.
The other five are operated by a Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft.
Last Tuesday, RwandAir has also ramped up its game by starting direct flights from Kigali to Brussels, addressing the Schengen visa challenges some of its passenger were facing via its London connection route.
The airline will now operate three weekly flights on this new route using its recently acquired Airbus A330 fleet.