Ethiopian sets up Cargo Conversion Center as it mulls converting more passenger planes into ‘preighters’

Published: Monday, August 30, 2021

ADDIS ABABA: Africa’s leading aviation group, Ethiopian Airlines Group has teamed up with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to establish a B767 passenger to freighter Cargo Conversion Center with the airline mulling to convert more commercial passenger planes into “preighters” to meet increasing air cargo demand in continent and other markets.

Ethiopian has so far temporarily converted at least 25 of its passenger planes into freighters since the Coronavirus pandemic began.

Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam said the conversion center will be built inside the airline’s MRO facilities at Addis Ababa International Airport. IAI will begin its business converting three of Ethiopian’s B767-300 passenger aircraft into freighters.

‘’In line with our Diversified Aviation Business Model of Vision 2025, we have been increasing our
cargo capacity in fleet, ground service infrastructure and cargo connectivity network.  Accordingly, we are partnering with IAI, one of the global technology leaders in the Aerospace industry, in building a cargo conversion center in our MRO facilities in Addis Ababa Airport,” said GebreMariam.

“The Cargo Conversion Center in Addis Ababa airport will expand its services to all airlines in Africa and the wider region. We are very happy that we are able to collaborate with IAI to enable us to expand our cargo and logistics services which is already the largest and leading cargo network in Africa. The capacity building will also help us expand our MRO services with cutting edge technology and knowledge transfer,” he added.

Yossi Melamed, IAI’s Executive VP and General Manager of Aviation Group, the company is delighted to work with Ethiopian and pledged to work side-by-side with the airline to meet its increasing cargo business.

“We are witnessing a sharp rise in the demand for cargo aircraft as a result of the rise in e-
commerce, which has peaked to record levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. IAI has an excellent
reputation as a conversion center of passenger-to-freighters aircraft, and we are constantly
receiving requests to open such conversion centers in more and more locations around the world,” said Melamed.

“The conversion line in Ethiopia will join existing conversion sites IAI operates at its campus in Ben Gurion International Airport and in Mexico. It is to be recalled that Ethiopian MRO, with its internal capacity, temporarily converted 25 of its passenger aircraft to freighter to boost its cargo capacity as demand to transport emergency medical supplies soared,” he added.

Ethiopian serves more than 130 international passenger and cargo destinations across five continents. Its fleet includes ultra-modern Airbus A350, Boeing 787-8, Boeing 787-9, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200 Freighter and Bombardier Q-400 double cabin with an average fleet age of five years.