File this under “that’s kind of cool as an aviation geek,” rather than “that’s useful” (but nowadays I feel like the former is more fun than the latter, given that all the useful news lately seems to be bad news).
Miami gets so many cool airlines & flights
As I’ve said many times before, one of the things that I love about living in Miami is how close the city is to the airport, so I get to watch planes overhead at low altitudes all day. Just about every time I hear a plane I open the Flightradar24 app.
We get some interesting planes here, from A380s full of European tourists looking for sunburns, or tans, as they call them (this was pre-COVID-19), to 64 year old cargo planes coming from Honduras.
I have a good sense of the planes we get nowadays, and often can guess what plane is overhead just by the sound of the engines and the time of day.
Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-8? That’s probably going to Atlanta or Anchorage. Turkish Airlines Cargo 777? That’s probably going to Houston. Ethiopian Airlines Cargo 777? That’s probably going to Bogota or Liege.
But yesterday I was caught way off guard when I saw two Ethiopian Airlines passenger 777s flying to Miami. And now I figured out what exactly what was going on.
Two Ethiopian Airlines 777s stopped in Miami
At least compared to most other global airlines, Ethiopian Airlines seems to be running a relatively normal operation at the moment, as many of their US flights continue to operate (I’m not exactly sure where the demand is for these flights, though?).
I have to imagine that these flights have mostly been pretty empty, and one reason I suspect that is because Ethiopian Airlines has been operating many of their westbound flights to North America nonstop.
Ordinarily these flights have refueling stops in Dublin, because the distance of a nonstop from Addis Ababa to the US, combined with the altitude of the airport, make it almost impossible to fly nonstop. However, clearly the loads must be pretty light, because these planes have flown nonstop.
Well, late Sunday night two Ethiopian Airlines flights started some very interesting journeys to the US:
- ET500 was scheduled to fly from Addis Ababa to Dublin to Washington, but flew nonstop (the 777 had the registration code ET-ANP)
- ET574 was scheduled to fly from Addis Ababa to Dublin to Chicago, but flew nonstop (the 777 had the registration code ET-ANN)
- Both planes flew to Miami yesterday morning (from Washington and Chicago, respectively)
- Both planes flew from Miami to Addis Ababa yesterday afternoon around the same time
What were the planes doing in Miami?
Not surprisingly, there’s an interesting story as to why two Ethiopian Airlines 777s flew from Miami to Addis Ababa yesterday, as reported by the Miami Herald.
Crew members of the Costa Favolosa and Costa Magica cruise ships have been stuck on ships for a couple of weeks now due to COVID-19 cases, and healthy crew members are now able to return home.
Cruise lines have been chartering several planes out of Miami, including these two Ethiopian Airlines 777s, and also some Wamos Air 747s.
The final destination for these passengers is the Philippines. For the Ethiopian Airlines flights, they operated from Miami to Addis Ababa to Manila, while for the Wamos Air flights, they operated from Miami to Madrid to Manila.
In the case of the Ethiopian Airlines flights, my guess is that the flights to Chicago and Washington operated as standard passenger flights, and then the returns were simply cancelled (which probably wasn’t a big deal, due to lack of demand), and instead these charters were operated.
Interesting stuff, eh?