Ethiopian Airlines, said to be Africa’s largest carrier, has secured a loan worth $450m from banking giant Citi Group to finance five new aircraft.

The airline will purchase all five jets from Boeing: three passenger 737-8 jets and two 777F planes for freight operations.

The bank said it was partly agreed to boost Citi’s profile in the East African nation, where is currently has little presence. The loan is guaranteed by the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a government channel.

Citi was also keen to point to the US-Ethiopia business ties the deal will create, with the aircraft built at Boeing’s facilities in Washington, US, before handover to the airline.

The additions will build Ethiopian’s fleet to 150. It’s stated goal is to extend to 270 aircraft, across passenger and freight services, by 2035.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tasew said: “We are pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with Citi to secure a USD $450 million loan. This financing will allow us to expand our fleet size by adding five new aircraft, three B737-8 MAXs and two 777 Freighter.

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“We are grateful for the mutually beneficial partnership we have established with Citi and look forward to further strengthening it. 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.”

Akin Dawodu, Citi’s Sub-Saharan Africa head said: “A lot of work has gone into getting this deal off the ground, and it is thanks to Citi’s strong relationships and connectivity both within the country and across our global network that we have been able to make it happen. Both our Banking and Treasury and Trade Solutions partners were instrumental in the delivery of this deal, and I would like to thank all teams for their collaboration.”