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Ethiopian Airlines adds flights to Atlanta

Ethiopian Airlines has announced that it will launch flights to Atlanta, Georgia. The airline will expand its presence in the United States with this new route.

Launching flights to Delta’s international hub

Starting 16th May 2023, Ethiopian Airlines will fly 4-times-a-week between Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Due Addis Ababa’s high altitude, the aircraft’s takeoff performance and range are significantly affected. As a result, the flight will have a refuelling stop in Dublin, Ireland (as most of Ethiopian’s U.S.-bound flights do) while the flight back to Addis Ababa will be operated nonstop. This is purely a refuelling stop and passengers will not be able to book tickets solely to fly between Dublin and Atlanta or vice-versa as Ethiopian does not have fifth-freedom rights for the flights between Dublin and Atlanta.

The flights on Addis Ababa-Dublin-Atlanta-Addis Ababa will operate with the following schedule:

  • Addis Ababa-Dublin
  • Departure time: 22:00
  • Arrival time: 04:20 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 8 hours and 20 minutes
  • Flight number: ET518
  • Frequency: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Dublin-Atlanta
  • Departure time: 05:10 (the next day)
  • Arrival time: 09:00
  • Flight time: 8 hours and 50 minutes
  • Flight number: ET518
  • Frequency: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Atlanta-Addis Ababa
  • Departure time: 10:35
  • Arrival time: 07:50 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 14 hours and 15 minutes
  • Flight number: ET519
  • Frequency: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays

Flights will be operated by Boeing B787-9 Dreamliners featuring 30 lie-flat Business Class seats and 285 standard Economy Class seats.

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Ethiopian’s U.S. network

With the addition of Atlanta to Ethiopian’s network, the airline will now fly to five destinations in the United States – Newark, New York JFK, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Atlanta. The airline used to fly to Houston and Los Angeles also but the routes have been suspended for quite some time.

Except New York JFK, all of Ethiopian’s U.S. destinations are United’s hubs. It’s reasonable as both of them are a part of Star Alliance and it will be easier for Ethiopian to access United’s network for passengers wanting to connect beyond these four United hubs. United can basically act as a feeder airline for passengers from Ethiopian Airlines.

Atlanta-Africa service

Delta is the largest airline flying between Atlanta and Africa which is totally understandable as Atlanta is the largest hub of Delta. The carrier operates flights from Atlanta to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa and Lagos in Nigeria.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, there were approximately 2,03,000 passengers annually flying between Atlanta and Africa. Around a third of those passengers flew to/from West Africa. Due to Ethiopian diaspora in and around Atlanta, there were some 15,000 round trip passengers between Atlanta and Addis Ababa.

As aforementioned, West Africa is the largest market from Atlanta so Ethiopian can’t target connecting passengers to/from West Africa as it’s not geographically possible and the travelling time for passengers will also significantly increase.

South Africa is a viable market for connecting passengers however Delta already serves that region with nonstop flights so passengers will most-of-the-time prefer nonstop flights over one-stop flights. The only power in Ethiopian’s hands will be to price the flights at lower rates as compared to Delta in order to attract passengers.

It remains to be seen how the route performs and how long does it last.

Featured image by Wikimedia Commons

What do you think of Ethiopian Airlines launching flights to Atlanta? Let me know in the comments section below.

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