Middle East lessor Palma Holding has firmed up an order for four Bombardier Q400s and four options, finalizing a letter of intent that was inked at the Dubai Air Show in November.
The aircraft, which are to be placed with rapidly expanding Ethiopian Airlines, are valued at $282 million at list prices. Palma has teamed up with joint venture partner Ibdar Bank on the Ethiopian deal.
Ethiopian will take the aircraft in a two-class configuration. The Addis Ababa-based carrier operates 13 Q400s, of which five are fitted with a dual-class cabin. Ethiopian launched this layout on the Q400 and Palma has become the first lessor to take a dual class Q400.
“The two-class configured Q400 NextGen aircraft provides customers like Ethiopian Airlines with operational flexibility, as well as excellent route and lease structures prospects,” Palma Holdings president Moulay Omar Alaoui said.
Ethiopian has outlined plans to double its Q400 fleet from 13 to at least 26 aircraft by 2025, but it could go further depending on the needs of sister airlines ASKY and Malawian Airlines, which were not included in its original fleet plan. It recently took delivery of a new CAE Q400 full-flight simulator and it has been designated as a Q400-authorized service facility.