Ethiopian Airlines is preparing to fly the Boeing 737MAX early next year or possibly before the end of 2021 according to the airline’s chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam in a new interview. It has been nearly two and a half years since an Ethiopian Airlines 737MAX8 jet crashed shortly after takeoff with the loss of 157 passengers and crew onboard.
GebreMariam now believes, however, that the 737MAX is safe “beyond reasonable doubt” following extensive changes made by Boeing following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and the earlier crash of Lion Air flight 610 which killed all 189 people onboard.
“I can confirm that we are committed to the Boeing 737 Max,” GebreMariam said on Thursday. “My estimate is by the end of the calendar year or beginning of next year, January, we will be flying the airplane.”
GebreMariam previously said that Ethiopian Airlines would be the last airline to start flying the aircraft type once it was approved by regulators. Work to get the model recertified in China, however, continues and pandemic control measures have slowed the work of regulators even further.
Brazil’s GOL Airlines became the first carrier to operate the 737MAX following a 20 month worldwide grounding. American Airlines was the first carrier in the United States to operate the aircraft type on a regularly scheduled passenger service after regulators declared the 737MAX was once again safe to fly.
Ethiopian Airlines has now reached an out of court settlement with Boeing over its worst-ever crash. Although details about the deal remain strictly confidential, sources quoted by Bloomberg claim the airline considers the matter over.
“We have settled our case with Boeing, that’s why we are now starting the process to fly back the airplane,” GebreMariam said during Thursday’s interview. “This happened in the last three months. We are happy on the settlement.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.