Ethiopian routes something of a gamble

US airlines must feel the route is not a commercial proposition

Dublin Airport just stopped short of selling the news that Ethiopian Airlines will use it as a stopping off point on its Addis Ababa-Los Angeles service as getting two new routes for the price of one.

From next summer, the African airline intends flying from its home country's capital to LA via Dublin, where it will have the right to stop and collect passengers, either on its way to the Californian city or on the way back to Addis Ababa.

In its press statement yesterday, Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) welcomed the addition of two new routes to destinations that are not served by current airlines.

The airline plans to use some of its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners – it has 10 – to service the route. Its own statements are selling the service as Addis Ababa-Dublin-LA, so, along with DAA, Ethiopian obviously thinks that the Irish stop-off has commercial potential.


One test of this will be whatever demand it encounters, or can generate, for the Dublin-LA leg. The bulk of this will have to come from the Irish market.

Given that Aer Lingus used to operate the route but no longer does so, and the fact that US carriers American, Delta, United and US are not currently offering flights to LA indicates that they don't feel the route is a commercial proposition.

However, Ethiopian Airlines will not be flying into Dublin with empty craft, so presumably is not relying on the Ireland-LA leg to ensure its service is viable.

It is even harder to gauge how Dublin-to-Addis Ababa will sell. It is a first, but Ethiopian flies from there to most major African cities, and is going to use the range of connections it can offer as a selling point.

Otherwise, it is easy to see how Addis itself would be attractive to Irish holiday makers/travellers looking for destinations a bit more exotic than the norm.

Whether those will be enough, or whether the airline will just have to rely on demand from its home market for LA flights, only time, and ticket sales, will tell.