EVERETT — EgyptAir received its fifth of six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on a typical Pacific Northwest overcast day on July 23, 2019.
The occasion was notable not just because it was the longest 787 delivery flight using biofuels but also because the flag carrier of Egypt showed some serious plans about making Cairo a hub between Western Europe, the United States, and the Middle East to capitals in Africa.
Since 2011, Egypt has been going through an unstable political environment. Tourism has taken a hit but not as bad as one would think.
Sharm el-Sheikh, Alexandria, and Cairo are still big draws—all speaking to what an amazing place Egypt is. But the country’s connection to the outer world, Egyptair, is at a crossroads.
After gaining a somewhat poor reputation around the world for bad on-time performance and deficient service, the airline seems on a path of getting back on track of excellence.
The airline recently hired Captain Ahmed Adel, an experienced professional with years of experience in the industry. Captain Adel seems keen to streamline the highly bureaucratic operation that EgyptAir used to be, turning it into an updated and technology-oriented airline.
EgyptAir also engaged the global strategy and management firm Bain and Company. The airline and the firm have been working on a two-tiered plan which will revamp the airline’s approach to the upcoming decade.
Captain Adel has seen to it that all the subsidiaries of EgyptAir, including Egyptair Cargo and Egyptair Express, will be streamlined into the main company, looking to remove redundancies and ways to create consistency in their operation.
Bain and Company’s plan for growth is moving ahead with acquiring new aircraft and setting a timeline for phasing out older planes in the fleet. The airline’s Airbus A330s have been placed on a track of retirement between 2021 and 2027. And the same goes for the six Boeing 777-300ERs, which are scheduled to be out of the fleet by 2023.
There will be an RFP that not only covers replacing these aircraft but also considers adding to capacity. There is a goal of acquiring 100 aircraft by 2027, according to the carrier.
Trying to increase its market share in the region, EgyptAir seems also keen on further improving the operation of Air Cairo (SM).
The Cairo-based low fare airline, which is partly owned EgyptAir (60%), currently operates a fleet of seven Airbus A320s to a myriad of destinations in the Middle East and Europe. Apparently, EgyptAir is looking to increase its participation in the airline, as much as a complete takeover, integrating it into its mainline operation.
In addition to this, EgyptAir will soon take delivery of its first Airbus A220, which recently rolled out of the paint shop in Montreal.
The airline will become the first North African operator of the A220 and the world’s sixth, after Swiss, Air Baltic, Korean Air, Delta Air Lines, and Air Tanzania.
According to the airline, the new plane will be entering service by September 2019, under the Egyptair Express banner. The first flights will be deployed to Sharm el-Sheikh, Luxor and Aswan.
EgyptAir claims that the brand-new A220s will also perform as pathfinders of sorts, and test new city pairs before larger aircraft are put on the routes. The A220 is an aircraft that EgyptAir is keen to have open secondary African markets.
Hopping Inside The Boeing 787-9
Airways was invited to tour the brand-new 787-9 Dreamliner, with plenty of time to explore its interiors and chat with the airline’s executives.
The Business Class seats, furnished by B/E Aerospace and its Super Diamond reverse herringbone design, happens to be one of the most popular business class seats in the air today.
There are lots of convenient storage cubbies and the base of the seat can be made very wide by lowering an armrest that also doubles as storage.
The touchpad that controls tray tables and the lie flat function are all quite logically laid out. What it doesn’t have in visual enticements, it more than makes up in simple efficiency.
This seat provides ample storage for laptops and books that you might not want to put back up in the overhead bin.
Another improvement in EgyptAir’s Business Class cabin is the 1-2-1, all-aisle-access configuration—a tremendous improvement over the airline’s Boeing 777’s already outdated 2-3-2 set up.
The Economy Class cabin configuration is humane at nine abreast and the 787 is always a nice aircraft to fly in.
The 279 Economy Class seats are 18 inches wide and are at a 31-inch pitch. That sounds a little tight, but the typical segment on these aircraft are anywhere from 3 ½ to nine hours, so it isn’t too terribly taxing.
Overall, the aircraft’s interiors are quite simplistic but represent a tremendous upgrade over the current offering that’s available on the EgyptAir Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s.
Not many of our readers were alive to remember that EgyptAir used to be one of the main ways to connect to Africa and the Middle East from the United States during the 1970s and 1980s—right up there with Air France.
With Captain Adel’s guidance, Bain and Company’s business plan, and the brand-new Boeing 787s and Airbus A220s, things are looking quite solid for Egyptair.