It said 149 passengers and eight crew members were believed to be on flight ET302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi in Kenya.
The airline added that there were 33 different nationalities on board.
The crash happened at 08.44 local time, six minutes after the flight took-off from the Ethiopian capital.
It is not yet clear what caused the accident.
First word of the crash came when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his “deepest condolences” on Twitter.
In an earlier statement, the airline said that search and rescue operations were under way near the crash site around the town of Bishoftu, which is 60km (37 miles) south-east of the capital.
“Ethiopian Airlines staff will be sent to the accident scene and will do everything possible to assist the emergency services,” the statement added.
Boeing, the company that built the aeroplane, said in a tweet that it was “closely monitoring the situation”.
Its 737 Max-8 aircraft is relatively new to the skies, having been launched in 2016. It was added to the Ethiopian Airlines fleet in July last year.
Another plane of the same model was involved in a crash five months ago, when
a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea near Indonesia with nearly 190 people on board. What do we know about the airline’s safety record?
Ethiopian Airlines flies to many destinations in Africa, making it a popular carrier in a continent where many airlines fly only from their home country to destinations outside Africa.
It has a good reputation for safety, although
in 2010 one of the company’s aeroplanes crashedin the Mediterranean Sea shortly after leaving Beirut.
The incident killed 90 people on board.
The airline’s highest fatalities prior to this came in a November 1996 crash during a hijacking on a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.
One of the aeroplane’s engines stopped when the fuel ran out and although pilots attempted an emergency water landing, they hit a coral reef in the Indian Ocean and 123 of the 175 people on board were killed.