By David Casey & Kurt Hofmann
Ethiopian Airlines is evaluating the launch of a new route to the US from West Africa, according to the Star Alliance member’s CEO.
Speaking to Aviation Week Network in an exclusive sit-down interview in Vienna, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said the carrier intends to add flights between Abidjan (ABJ) in the Ivory Coast and Washington Dulles (IAD).
The airline originally announced plans for a 3X-weekly Addis Ababa (ADD)–Abidjan–Washington Dulles service to start in summer 2019, but data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that the route only operated on two occasions in June of that year.
Should Ethiopian launch Abidjan-Washington flights, the route would become the airline’s second to the US city alongside its existing Addis Ababa-Dublin-Washington Dulles-Addis Ababa route. Flights are currently daily using Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.
Ethiopian currently operates three North America routes from Addis Ababa via Dublin, flying to Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Toronto Pearson (YYZ) and Washington Dulles. The outbound services require the stop because of the Ethiopian capital’s high altitude, although the carrier can operate nonstop flights on the inbound leg.
If Ethiopian gets the green light to open a route to Montreal, Addis Ababa would become the fourth destination in Africa to be served from the Canadian city. Air Canada currently flies to Cairo (CAI) in Egypt and Casablanca (CMN) in Morocco, while Royal Air Maroc also serves Casablanca-Montreal and Tunisair offers Tunis (TUN)-Montreal flights.
In addition, GebreMariam namechecked Houston, Amsterdam and Amman as future destinations for Ethiopian. The carrier previously served Houston (IAH) from Addis Ababa, via Lome (LFW) in Togo, prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
Photo credit: Rob Finlayson