LAX Lands A Nonstop Flight To Africa!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Ethiopian Airlines quietly stopped accepting reservations for their flight between Los Angeles and Dublin.

The airline has been flying to Los Angeles since 2015, operating a flight to Addis Ababa via Dublin. The airline had pick-up rights in both directions, meaning that passengers could fly solely between Los Angeles and Dublin if they wanted to.

However, recently the airline updated their schedule as of mid-December, and removed the option of booking a ticket solely between Los Angeles and Dublin. The schedule continued to display the same routing, so there’s not a logical reason they’d keep operating the flight but not sell seats on that flight as well, given that they have the option of doing so.

So my guess was that the airline was changing their intermediate stop between Los Angeles and Addis Ababa, and that’s indeed what has happened. As reported by @airlineroute, Ethiopian Airlines’ flight between Los Angeles and Addis Ababa will operate via Lome, Togo as of December 17, 2018.

The airline will have fifth freedom rights between Los Angeles and Lome, meaning passengers can book a flight exclusively between the two airports.

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

ET504 Addis Ababa to Lome departing 8:20AM arriving 11:10AM
ET504 Lome to Los Angeles departing 12:25PM arriving 7:35PM

ET505 Los Angeles to Lome departing 9:35PM arriving 7:35PM (+1 day)
ET505 Lome to Addis Ababa departing 8:50PM arriving 5:40AM (+1 day)

This represents LAX’s first nonstop flight to Africa, and it means LAX now joins the exclusive rank of airports with nonstop service to six continents.

Ethiopian will continue to use a Boeing 787-8 for the route. The first sector between Lome and Addis Ababa will cover a distance of 2,581 miles, while the second sector to Los Angeles will cover a distance of 7,635 miles, making the total journey distance 10,215 miles. Wow!

I don’t know that much about Togo, though I do sure find this interesting. I understand that ASKY has a hub there, and Ethiopian Airlines has a stake in them, so there’s quite a bit of connectivity between there and other points in West Africa. However, is there really that much demand between Los Angeles and West Africa? And is that demand greater than what there was between Los Angeles and Dublin? I’m sure they’ve done their research, but I find it to be very interesting.

What do you make of Ethiopian’s new nonstop flight between LAX and Lome?

Comments

  1. The AA flight crew is ice-cold on the non-stop to Antarctica… but seriously I think it should say LAX to 6 continents.

  2. What is the 7th continent that LAX has nonstop flights to? I only count 6. North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa.

  3. “This represents LAX’s first nonstop flight to Africa, and it means LAX now joins the exclusive rank of airports with nonstop service to seven continents.”

    What airport in Antarctica is served from LAX?

  4. Terrible routing for the economics of flights. Thats atleast 2+ hours (1,100miles) worth of extra flying to reach ADD. Guess ET has piles of money to burn on the already loss making route.

  5. The fares to Dublin, or anywhere in europe, are probably garbage and so this new stop probably costs a lot less in fees as well as getting 3 people a month going to Lome

  6. Lome is another Hub for Ethiopian.
    I believe they fly to Newark through Lome as well. The same for Brazil and Argentina flights

    The airlines is trying to get a footthold in West Africa!

  7. ASKY Airlines is based in Lome. ET has an extensive codeshare network with ASKY throughout western Africa so this makes for a very easy connection between Los Angeles and places like Ghana, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and several others. There’s a reason that the ET flight to Newark has a stop in Togo as well.

  8. “There’s a reason that the ET flight to Newark has a stop in Togo as well.”

    Yup and with the addition of this LAX flight tourism in Togo, Benin, and those going overland to/from Nigeria will increase. It’s exciting!

    Quartz Africa weekly brief has good pieces on airline liberalization in Africa btw…

  9. Talk about an out of the way stop. Hardly efficient routing making a very long journey even longer. Makes already appealing TK choice via Istanbul look even more appealing.

  10. Took ET’s Newark flight to Lome. It was perfectly fine and that was the extent of it.

    One reason Lome works well for them is with no direct routing to Nigeria from the US at the moment, tons of Nigerians use this instead. Then it’s just a short hop to Nigeria.

  11. Hey, you say:
    ET504 Addis Ababa to Los Angeles departing 8:20AM arriving 11:10AM
    ET504 Lome to Los Angeles departing 12:25PM arriving 7:35PM

    I think you mean
    ET504 Addis Ababa to LOME departing 8:20AM arriving 11:10AM

    just a small correction.

  12. As an Ethiopian, I would have wished for another European stop to reduce the time/distance involved. This change makes flight even less appealing and certainly makes competitor airline offerings even more compelling to ones to pick.
    The Lome stop might work for New York or South America, but it’s too out of the way for West Coast USA.

  13. Same as Delta having international hubs in Seattle and JFK. Even if it isn’t necessarily fastest to fly PEK-SEA-JFK, they route it through SEA in the name of building a hub.

    The story of US-Africa flying has generally been one of losses—perhaps a more concerted effort to build up hubs can counteract this. Maybe.

  14. I took Ethiopian’s flight to Newark via Lome. Was a very pleasant experience. Interestingly I was the only passenger in the business class cabin for both sectors, so had some very personalized attention!

    As noted by other posters, the reason for Lome as a stop is the fact that it is the base for Asky Airlines, which ET has an ownership stake in and codeshares with. Since ADD is very far east, it is not a logical connecting point for anyone going from the US to west Africa. The Lome stop allows people to use the LAX flight to connect on to west African points via Asky and east African points via ADD. So it actually makes a lot more sense than DUB. While DUB may have had more local traffic, I don’t believe that ET was able to get any feed there.

  15. Yeah as noted by others it’s not just demand to Lome but to the rest of West Africa with onward connections from Lome on ASKY airlines, which is owned by Ethiopian

  16. No surprise here. ET can fill their B787 through ASKY and the region doesn’t have any long haul connections. ET’s investments in the region provide great synergies to its operations.

    I’m pretty sure that if they could, they would probably change most of their stop-overs to North America, to West Africa. Demand is there. Given ET’s extensive network they can probably get away with the ‘extra hour or so’ added to flight times via Togo.

    And despite ADD’s location above sea level and limiting their MTOW, their B787-8s seat 270Pax compared to Kenya Airways’ 234.

  17. Lome is a focus city for Ethiophian, as they have a subsidiary there, called ASKY, that operates mainly in western and central Africa, so Ethiopian uses their own flights as feeder flights for ASKY.
    Their flights to south America used to stop in Lomé as well, and i guess the Newark flight still does, due to critical conditions in ADD. Although, there is no way demand between LFW and LAX is bigger than that between LAX and DUB. Togo is a small country, with few demand for intercontinental air travel (except, maybe, to Europe)

  18. A more interesting question is how Togo has managed to become the service hub of West Africa. It’s port and airport are absolutely booming compared to Lagos and Accra, or even Dakar. ASKY is based there and flies almost everywhere in West Africa. There are now direct flights to NYC (Newark), Paris, Lisbon, Casablanca, and Brussels – in a country with a population less than 8 million and no particular industry of note. It’s really quite amazing.

  19. ET has made a blunder in changing this routing if it was serious in attracting traffic from the US, and other feeder locations. Dublin is a great transfer point for other European destinations, but Tome (get out the atlas) trashes that notion. Maybe ET is deliberately shrinking into just a regional airline. In any event it is becoming an irrelevancy for North American travellers.

  20. For those espousing benefits of ASKY link, has anybody bothered to look at the schedule?

    With 1935 arrival into Lome, I don’t see a single ASKY connection in GDS that connects. ASKY Lome hubs departure bank to destinations in western Africa are all around noon/early afternoon. There is nothing late evening.

  21. The schedule you show makes no sense. There will be more changes. This schedule shows different banks feeding to the eastbound and westbound flights, which sacrifices huge connectivity. ET simply doesn’t do that kind of thing. Everything is banked and connectivity drives every decision the scheduling team makes.

  22. Nonstarter. By far the worst airline I have ever flown and Addis is one of the worst airports. But On plus side maybe ET’s cheap biz class fares will pressure first world carriers to lower theirs

  23. @James
    Before Emirates increased frequencies and optimised their schedule, waiting at DXB for about 8hrs was more of the norm as i once did very many years ago, as i wanted to try their product which friends and family were talking about at the time.

    In time, ET will probably streamline that to sth like the so called ‘Ethiopian hour’ in Dublin.

  24. I have flown Asky. Their flight are like being on a flying bus, most flights make at least 2 -4 stops before turning around. The old airport in Lome was so confusing since it never listed all the cities each flight was going to, so you could easily miss your flight. I flew from Conakry to Yaounde one day. It took me about 10-12 hours with all the stops. There was a French Pilot on one of the flights, and the food was better than KQ or ET.

    I think it is time you visit West Africa; Senegal and Ghana would be great countries to start with. You can always try to go through Cape Verde on the way back!

  25. I can’t believe I’d need to say this to Lucky, but demand isn’t particularly relevant… If DUB has, for example, twice the demand but 3x the number of flights, operating from the area with less demand makes much more sense.

    @Glenn T – They’re an African airline, why on Earth do you think they should focus on taking Americans to Europe?

  26. @Callam: You might wonder also what they are doing flying to LAX, hey?
    My point was that Americans (I am not one of them) are more interested in flying to Europe than some sh***ole in Africa. Just sayin’ ………

  27. Ethiopia is building an additional hub in Lome to growth in Africa. For me this is a pretty smart and obvious move since don’t have any partner or connecting flights in Dublin.

  28. @Glenn t – Are you stupid? Just because more want to go to Europe, doesn’t mean none of them want to go to Africa.

    There are plenty of people more pleasant and enlightened than yourself in this world, thankfully.

    Oh, and I’d imagine theyre flying to LAX because many Africans want to visit California and many Californians want to visit Africa. Crazy I know.

  29. @Glenn – For the record, I live in Los Angeles, and I like that there’s a direct connection to the African continent that doesn’t involve transferring in FRA, DUB or LHR.

    It’s like connecting in ICN to visit Australia. I could do it, but why would I want to?

  30. To the question about if Lome is a place to go to: Yes it is!
    It is a small charming capitol with several good restaurants, some of them with a kind of fine dining the West African way. The french educated many togolese chefs, so you may find real good and fun food. Hire a car with driver and take a few days to explore Lake Togo, the countryside, the voodoo-tradition or take a trip to Ghana with the former port city on the road to Accra, Cape Coast and Kumasi sums up my favourites.
    Enjoy West-Africa, a fantastic region 🙂

  31. @ Glenn t. There are hundreds of travellers between LAX and Africa weekly. ET is offering them a service. They don’t want to fill up their aircraft with purely Dublin -bound customers
    The fact that you find the route irrelevant is your opinion. LA has a large Ethiopian diaspora and am sure you are an expert on Togo can provide your insight on it’s people and culture.

  32. @Glenn t – I’m not quite sure how you’re able to describe me perfectly having never had any meaningful interaction, but I’m most confused as to how the fact more Americans want to go to Europe than Africa describes me. That’s a very abstract concept and I’m afraid it’s gone way above my head.

  33. Another deciding factor for Ethiopian may have been the introduction of an Aer Lingus DUB-LAX service which will no doubt draw the home market on both sides of the Atlantic and of course EI have great connectivity from DUB.

    Lome looks interesting, I’ve traveled a bit in West Africa and I’ll put it on the list for the next time.

  34. As others have posted , ASKY flies from Lome to West African cities like Accra and Lagos . Furthermore , Lome is only 2 hours by car from Accra in Ghana and there is big demand for USA flights from Ghana . Most flights go through London . If I was still working in Accra and wanted to get to Los Angeles , Newark , Brasil and Argentina , I would use Lome and Ethiopian . More direct than a London transfer .
    It seems that Ethiopian wants the West Africa travellers, not the US,EU,UK travellers.

  35. Lucky, what will be the best mileage program to get the best award prices for the LAX-Lome flight? United? Singapore?

  36. As others have noted, Ethiopian is using both Lome and Abidjan as hubs for the West African services. They are partnering with both Air Cote d’Ivoire and with ASKY Airlines to connect passengers from the West to places in Western Africa like Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria. I recently flew this connection with Ethiopian from Newark to Lome and then connecting to ASKY from Lome to Lagos. About 50-60 passengers also connected with me, so it was a large group. You can see my full review of ASKY here https://0504traveller.blogspot.com/2017/12/trip-report-asky-airlines-lome-to-lagos.html, but overall its not a pleasant way to fly. The connection was tight but alright – boarding passes are only available in Lome and the ground staff already have those printed out for you. The luggage tags are just transferred over, but we only had 50mins to make our connection which meant getting our boarding pass, clearing security, and transferring to the other departure gate. In the end, the passengers made it but the bags did not (the bags made it the next day as they only operate one flight a day). If Ethiopian wants to build a West African hub, they need to have better connections with more frequency between the cities

  37. Why can’t I see this flight on United’s page? The calendar view keeps erroring out but the individual days I’m looking for show a routing through Newark, but nothing direct from LAX to Lome. Shouldn’t it show up even if there is no availability?

  38. Also I think the only other airports that fly to six continents are London Heathrow and Dubai am I wrong?

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