Ethiopan To Add Los Angeles Flight

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.

Via eturbonews.com:

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.

Ethiopian-LAX

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?

Comments

  1. The map you’ve drawn is very interesting. Would it by any chance be very close to the shortest route between ADD and LAX? If so, then DUB could just be because its a convenient location along the flight route. And does DUB have a direct flight to LAX at the moment? If not, it the DUB-LAX sector could prove quite popular, even if more Irish-descended Americans live in the New England area compared to LA.

  2. You are overlooking the CBP preclear facilities at Dublin. Very savvy move as the Irish will likely not fine them so much for refusals like the US would ( and the UK would as well).

  3. I think Rich is spot on. Being able to do CBP pre-clearance and being able to fly passengers directly from Dublin to US and drop everyone off as domestic passengers will allow them to turn the aircraft much faster.

    This is very similar to the plan that Norwegian has to use Dublin for pre-clearance and as a hub.

    And if they get fifth freedom rights then I can see them allowing connecting passengers similar to their current Washington – Rome – Addis route.

  4. Ethiopian currently flies ADD-FCO-YYZ and doesn’t pick up passengers in Rome… I don’t understand why! The few minutes it takes to board people could be the difference between break even or a loss on the flight…

  5. I’m not sure this will work even with the pre-clearance. You’d need to be a pretty savvy traveller to factor pre-clearance into your choice of carrier, and those (mostly business) passengers would likely prefer a better airline with a superior product. If you’re flying LAX-ADD, there are lots of 1-stop options available, and routing via DUB is no shorter than going via any other European hub. If you’re connecting to somewhere else in Africa, you’re better off taking a Middle Eastern carrier with a single connection in DXB/AUH/DOH instead of Ethiopian with stops in DUB and ADD.

    The only way I can see this working is with dirt cheap fares and moving the stop to BRU (for EU government business and partner connections). I doubt there’s much demand for ADD-DUB, although DUB-LAX might do better.

  6. Lucky, are you not aware of the longstanding connection between Ethiopia and the great country of Ireland? 🙂

  7. I have a tough time believing this being a profitable route for Ethiopian. We live near LAX and love to visit Africa, so the option of a direct flight (in Star no less) to Africa is appealing…except that the stopover in DUB still makes the overall itinerary no more appealing than any of a dozen options from the West Coast through Europe/Middle East to anywhere in Africa. Ethiopia isn’t enough of a destination in and of its own to make us prefer to use this Ethiopian option when we’d prefer to go to South Africa or another place in Africa or environs–especially when the other options likely have better premium class options with better hard products, food, and service and FAR better lounge options when making the stopover.

    I’ve taken the SAA flight IAD-DKR-JNB in 2010 when our LH flights LAX-FRA-JNB got canceled due to the Iceland volcanic eruption that spring. The stopover in DKR was interminable and very annoying. Taking on passengers at DKR turned a 45 minute refuel into an almost 2 hour nightmare in the midst of 2 very long segments. The Ethiopian route will be just as annoying were they to take on passengers. Ethiopian would have to offer a superior product to entice me to suffer that, and that isn’t likely.

  8. I wonder why Qatar have not decide Doha-Lax route while the other two neighbors have done so. LA is a big market that can accomidate these three airlines easily.

  9. Royal Jordanian has not scrapped MIA/LAX. The plans are on hold due to 787 delivery delays. Miami will launch first, probably spring 2015.

  10. They may be using Dublin specifically because it is not a star hub. Using any other star hub in Europe would put them in direct competition with LH, who now flies much of the traffic between Addis and Europe/North America and has all of these connections already.

  11. @ choi — I’m sure they will eventually. They’re growing a ton in the US the past few years, so I’m sure LAX is in the works eventually. It’s just an expensive route to operate given how ultra longhaul it is.

  12. @ Charlie — It is direct, but Vienna and Copenhagen are both within 10 miles of the same distance for the overall route.

  13. Well, behind DC, LA has the largest Ethioian expat communityin the United States. But perhaps making the service a tag onto the ADD-ARN would be superior to unite the expat Ethioians in ARN and create fifth freedom rights on LAX-ARN and feed on SAS.

  14. The miltary politicians of Ethiopia are talking about sending the pilots to the restroom handcuffed together to prevent any pilot from trying to hijack the plane while the other pilot is in the restroom like it happened in the past with EAL recently.

  15. @Lucky, do you know if this will be a Fifth Freedom routing opening up the LAX-DUB route to a nonstop (which would be insanely useful, since the only California nonstop I think is from SFO) or is it literally just a stopover with no right to disembark?

  16. @ Nick — No clue since it hasn’t formally been scheduled yet, but I doubt they’ll have pick up rights. They have a similar stop in Rome for another route to North America, and don’t have pick-up rights there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *