Ethiopian Airlines Group secured a $450 million loan from Citigroup Inc. to finance five new Boeing Co. aircraft as Africa's largest carrier looks to expand its fleet in the coming decade.
Ethiopia's flagship carrier will use the funds to purchase three 737 Max aircraft and two 777 freighters from Boeing, according to a statement on Tuesday. The planes will be delivered in December and will expand the airline's fleet to 150 aircraft.
Ethiopian placed orders with both Airbus SE and Boeing for around 40 planes in November as part of its ambitious plans to nearly double its fleet in the next 12 years to more than 270 aircraft and fly to over 200 airports across the world.
"Fleet expansion being one of our strategic growth pillars, we will continue expanding and modernizing our fleet size so as to grow our business and reach new markets," Ethiopian Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew Bekele said in the statement.
For Citigroup, the loan is part of the bank's efforts to expand its business across the continent of Africa. Though it does not have a physical office in Ethiopia, the company remains the only US bank providing correspondent banking in the country, according to the statement.
"A lot of work has gone into getting this deal off the ground," Akin Dawodu, Citigroup's head of sub-Saharan Africa, said in the statement. "Citi has been serving Ethiopian Airlines for many decades, and we are pleased to support its growth with financing."