March 10 (Reuters) – Ethiopian Airlines (ETHA.UL) has emerged as the unidentified buyer of five Boeing (BA.N) current-generation 777 freighters reported this week, two people familiar with the matter said.
The order, posted as an unnamed airline in Boeing’s monthly orders update on Tuesday, is separate from a recently announced provisional agreement by Ethiopian for later deliveries of five of a successor model, the 777X freighter, also known as the 777-8 cargo version.
Ethiopian ordered the current-generation 777 freighters to meet near-term cargo demand, the sources said.
Boeing declined to comment. The airline did not respond to a request for comment.
It was not immediately clear whether the airline would press ahead with both sets of orders, but several airlines have been aggressively adding capacity to address a boom in cargo demand.
The airline operates Africa’s largest cargo terminal from its Addis Ababa hub.
The International Air Transport Association said on Wednesday that growth in demand had softened in January due in part to the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
But supply chain disruptions that surfaced at the start of the pandemic recovery and stoked air cargo demand are still present.
Boeing has dominated the air freight market for years through its 767, 777 and 747 cargo jets and has been galvanizing support for the new twin-engined 777X freighter.