Ethiopian Airlines on June 1 will add three weekly direct flights between Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport and Lomé, Togo, the carrier announced. The flights will begin and end in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The new route will supplement the carrier’s current Washington D.C. connection to Addis Ababa via Dublin.
“With the three flights starting in June, that will increase our weekly frequency from seven to 10 flights out of Dulles—seven direct to Addis, which will serve East and Central African cities, and the rest to Lomé” to serve West Africa, Ethiopian Airlines regional director for the U.S. Samson Arega told BTN. “We are excited about this new development.”
The carrier chose Lomé—which is the connection point for flights between both Newark and New York-JFK and Addis Ababa—because it is a key connector for West African cities via the regional carrier Asky Airlines. Ethiopian Airlines has about an 89 percent stake in the company, Arega said. In fact, Ethiopian Airlines’ new CEO, Mesfin Tasew Bekele, appointed effective March 23, was COO of Ethiopian from 2010 to 2021, after which he became CEO of Asky.
“They have a dense make-up in covering the prime West African cities,” Arega said of Asky, noting that the added capacity will bring more flights to big hubs in West Africa, like Accra in Ghana, Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire and Lagos, Nigeria. The carrier in 2020 tried the route between Washington, D.C. and Abidjan, he added, but it was “not sustainable because of some connecting issues.”
The additional flights will restore Ethiopian Airlines’ U.S. capacity nearly to pre-pandemic levels, in terms of the number of weekly flights it will offer between the United States and Africa. The carrier also has restored service through Chicago, Newark and New York-JFK, added Arega, who assumed his position in January. The missing city is Houston, service to which was suspended in May 2020 because of the Covid-19 outbreak. “We still plan to resume it, but we don’t have a timeline for when it will be in the system,” Arega said.
In his new role, Arega said one of his key priorities will be to increase the carrier’s corporate clients, claiming that Ethiopian offers the shortest route compared to other airlines to Africa from North America and that the carrier flies to 60 cities in Africa.
“We believe we haven’t fully tapped that market,” he said. “We were predominantly focused on ethnic travel. And now, as an aviation powerhouse in Africa, we are more focused on securing big corporate clients. … We will reach out aggressively to major companies in the United States with an interest in Africa to fulfill their air travel needs.”