Ethiopian Airlines Is Adding Flights To Chicago As Of June 2018

Late last year Ethiopian Airlines stated their intentions to add flight to Chicago, though there were also rumors that they were considering Houston instead. Airlines can talk a big talk and sometimes don’t follow through on routes, so it’s not confirmed until the schedule is published (and even then it’s sometimes not confirmed). This route is now for sale.

Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying 3x weekly between Addis Ababa and Chicago as of June 2, 2018. The flight will operate with the following schedule, per @airlinerotue:

ET510 Addis Ababa to Dublin departing 10:15PM arriving 4:25AM (+1 day)
ET510 Dublin to Chicago departing 5:25AM arriving 7:55AM

ET511 Chicago to Addis Ababa departing 9:55AM arriving 7:40AM (+1 day)

The flight to Chicago operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, while the flights back to Addis Ababa operates on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The total distance of the route is ~7,600 miles, so this is an ultra longhaul flight. The westbound flight is blocked at 17hr40min (including the one hour in Dublin), while the eastbound flight is blocked at 13hr45min.

The new route will be operated by a Boeing 787-8, featuring 24 business class seats and 246 economy seats. Some of Ethiopian’s 787s have fully flat beds in business class, while others have angled seats, as they haven’t finished reconfiguring their entire fleet. Here’s a review I wrote of their “old” 787 business class, from a flight between Beijing and Addis Ababa.

The stop in Dublin is primarily a refueling stop. This is needed because Addis Ababa is at a high altitude, so the plane couldn’t take off all the way to Chicago with a full load. Ethiopian Airlines stops in Dublin for most of their US flights, so this one is no different. Interestingly Ethiopian Airlines is actually selling seats on the Addis Ababa to Dublin sector, which seems a bit odd, given that the stop is just in one direction. The only US flight where Ethiopian Airlines stops in Dublin in both directions is their Los Angeles flight, and there they have a significant amount of demand between both Los Angeles and Dublin, and between Dublin and Addis Ababa.

If you want to redeem miles on this flight, Ethiopian Airlines seems to have two business class award seats available every flight, and even more seats available in economy. So this is an excellent flight for redeeming miles to Africa.

Here are the one-way business class redemption costs for some popular Star Alliance programs:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: 75,000 miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles: 78,000 miles
  • United MileagePlus: 80,000 miles

Does anyone plan on taking Ethiopian Airlines’ new flight between Chicago and Addis Ababa?

Comments

  1. Absolutely. Correctly if I’m wrong but this is the only way to get to Africa nonstop from Chicago…?

  2. @Lucky excuse me for my lack of knowledge, but could you further explain how the high attitude of Addis Ababa leads to the nessesity of the Dublin stop on ten westbound?

  3. I’ll def be keen to give this a go. My wife and I went to Kenya last year on a good paid business fair on Kenya and Klm (around $2200 from ORD). We loved Our first time to Africa. I’ve beem waiting for this follow up for a long time!! Exciting. Btw. I don’t mind the facing forward seats like on Ethiopian and Kenyan (and even united) when with a companion. Seems far less claustrophobic in the footwell.

  4. Ricardo, yEs only direct way to Africa from ORD. Annoying as ORD also has virtually no flights to South America either.

  5. @Him

    I believe they are building a new airport near ADD that will eventually replace ADD and I gather it is at a lower altitude which will solve the takeoff performance issues. I guess this is why they haven’t extended the runway at ADD

  6. Good way to get to TLV as well as any flights from ORD (unless you use RJ) need to connect in Europe or pit stop in east coast and use United, yick!

  7. @John – Aircraft are able to takeoff due to lift generated during the takeoff roll. To keep the explanation simple, we can say that the lift is reduced due to the thinner air at high altitude relative to sea level. As a result, aircraft have to go faster (and hence need longer runways to reach that speed) at higher altitudes or at higher temperatures. The heavier the plane, the higher the speed needed to achieve enough lift, and therefore the longer the runway needed. Long flights from Addis to North America need to carry full tanks of fuel, so they require even longer runways than shorter flights.

    That said, the restricting factor in Addis Ababa is not actually the runway length but rather the maximum speed at which the tyres of the aircraft can operate at. The faster that the aircraft goes on the runway, the more heat is generated by friction between the tyre and the runway surface. Unfortunately, while the aircraft engines themselves can generate enough thrust to create lift to take off from the existing runways in Addis Ababa with a relatively full load of passengers and fuel, the speeds that they would need to achieve do that is above the safe operating limit of the tyres. This friction generated heat could cause tyres to burst, catch fire or wear out signficantly thus making the operation unsafe.

    Now, Ethiopian could theoretically fly these flights nonstop with fewer passengers or cargo on board to reduce the weight but obviously that reduces the amount of revenue they can earn from the flights. After doing the mathematics, it makes more sense for them to fly via Dublin (where fuel is also significantly cheaper than Addis Ababa) in order to both reduce their costs and maximise their revenue.

    The same issues obviously don’t apply when departing from a lower altitude airport in North America, so they can fly nonstop back from Chicago, Toronto or Washington as needed.

    Hope this explains why ET has to use an en route stop going westbound from Addis to North America, but can fly nonstop on the eastbound return.

  8. @Sean M, thank you for the in depth reply. I assume you work in the airline industry, i’ve Read many informative comments from you. If I may, which position exactly?

  9. @MACH81 – I specialise in startup airline projects in Africa and the Middle East region – have launched 3 airlines here since 2005 plus a handful of other aviation projects. Presently based out of Malawi but commuting to my projects in the region (hence lots of flying on ET!).

  10. @Sean M. Thank you very much for your detailed explanation. Nice to have someone with your extensive/impressive experience you “on-board” and reading this blog.

  11. Regardless of the technical issue, it does seem like ORD-DUB would have substantial demand, like LAX-DUB. Were they not able to get government approval to sell tickets ORD-DUB, or did they not ask?

  12. @asdf – If they departed Chicago with the same 2 hour turnaround time, they would only arrive in Dublin late at night and the onward flight to Addis would then depart after midnight. The additional time taken for the stop in Dublin would mean that the aircraft would arrive in Addis too late to connect passengers to the morning bank of flights, which would result in the reduction of at least 37 connecting destinations.

    There was a detailed discussion of the reasoning for this schedule on the previous thread linked by Lucky where the predicted routing and schedule for this flight was pretty much exactly predicted accurately.

    ET is developing a third bank of afternoon flights at Addis now which will include feed from BOM, DEL, JNB, TLV, JUB, KRT, NBO, EBB and domestic points by this summer. That may be used in the medium term future to open up North American destinations with longer flying time from Addis, although the higher daytime temperatures may cause an issue on that front – as well as the local time and connectivity at possible en route pitstops whether in Europe or West Africa.

  13. Perhaps they will offer sensibly priced o/w fares from Dublin to Chicago given that there is no return ( and , one assumes, a few passengers terminating in Dublin). Finding reasonable o/w fares is frustratingly difficult when trying to make positioning flights and non-standard itineraries. Dublin has fewer cheap deals in recent times.

  14. @Paolo – ET will not be selling tickets between Dublin and Chicago (nor between Addis and Dublin) on these flights. The Dublin stop is purely for fuel and crew change – the aircraft doesn’t even park near the terminal.

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