MIAMI — Ethiopian Airlines is set to take delivery of the first of 14 Airbus A350-900 aircraft on order, making it the first African operator of the type.

The first two aircraft to be delivered this year (ET-ATQ • MSN 40 / ET-ATR • MSN 43) are a lease from AerCap, while the remaining dozen will come from an order booked by the carrier at the 2009 Dubai Airshow, with deliveries expected to take place next year.

“The fact that we are ushering in another first to Africa in a span of four years is an affirmation of our continuing pioneering role in African aviation. It is also a testimony of our commitment to give our passengers the very best travel experience, with the latest industry products and services.” Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group said in a statement. “With an additional 13 A350XWB on order, we remain well prepared to accommodate the growing number of our passengers and to serve them better” he said.

Initial A350 flights will be from Addis Ababa to Lagos, Nigeria and Dubai, which will enable flight crews to familiarize with the all-new aircraft, which offers 313 seats in economy (in a 3+3+3 layout) and 30 in business class (in a 2+2+2 arrangement).

The flag carrier of Ethiopia was also the first African carrier to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in August 2012.