In terms of interesting news that probably isn’t significant to most, Ethiopian Airlines plans to launch service to Los Angeles sometime in 2015. Since Los Angeles is over 9,000 miles from Addis Ababa (and Addis Ababa is at a fairly high altitude, limiting takeoff performance), the new route will apparently go via Dublin.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Los Angeles will become the second US destination for Ethiopian Airlines. Ethiopian CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that the carrier is planning to start flights to Los Angeles via Dublin. “Since it is a long flight we need a stopover. And we are planning to make a stopover in Dublin. We have secured a traffic right from the Ireland Civil Aviation Authority,” Tewolde said. If everything goes according to schedule, Ethiopian will launch the flight to Los Angeles next year.
I’m very curious to see if this route actually gets off the ground, and if so, how it does. They’re not the first carrier to have a plan like this. Last year Royal Jordanian announced they were looking at flights from Amman to Los Angeles and Miami, and apparently intended to route via Vienna. It seems they scrapped those plans, since I haven’t heard anything about it since.
Also, while the reasoning behind the route was somewhat different, in 2012 Qatar Airways expressed interest in flying between Athens and New York, though that flight never got off the ground.
While Los Angeles is a logical choice given the Ethiopian population there, it’s extremely difficult to turn a profit on ultra longhaul flying.
The choice of Dublin as a stopover city is interesting. You would think they would route via a Star Alliance hub so they can optimize loads and revenue. For example, they could (theoretically) instead route via Brussels, Copenhagen, Vienna, etc. But of course that assumes they actually had the intention of picking up passengers along the way, which doesn’t seem to be the case.
So by choosing Dublin I think it goes without saying that they’re simply trying to keep costs as low as possible, without actually intending to pick up many passengers along the way.
While I wish them the best, I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot by not routing via a city with decent O&D traffic to either Los Angeles or Addis Ababa.
What do you think? Could Ethiopian make this route work?