Ethiopian Airlines Adds Atlanta Flights

Ethiopian Airlines Adds Atlanta Flights

44

Ethiopian Airlines will be expanding its service to the United States even further, with a new route to Atlanta…

Ethiopian Airlines’ Addis Ababa to Atlanta route

As of May 16, 2023, Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying 4x weekly between Addis Ababa (ADD) and Atlanta (ATL), with the following schedule:

ET518 Addis Ababa to Dublin departing 10:00PM arriving 4:20AM (+1 day)
ET518 Dublin to Atlanta departing 5:10AM arriving 9:00AM
ET519 Atlanta to Addis Ababa departing 10:35AM arriving 7:50AM (+1 day)

The journey covers a distance of 7,703 miles. The westbound journey is blocked at 18hr, while the eastbound journey is blocked at 14hr15min.

The stop in Dublin is purely a refueling stop. The reason the flight can’t be operated nonstop is because of the high altitude of Addis Ababa, which limits the takeoff performance of the aircraft, and therefore also limits the range. If Addis Ababa were at sea level, this route could be operated nonstop westbound as well.

Ethiopian Airlines’ new Atlanta rotue

Ethiopian Airlines will use a Boeing 787-9 for the route, featuring 315 seats. This includes 30 business class seats and 285 economy class seats.

My take on Ethiopian Airlines’ new service to Atlanta

Ethiopian Airlines’ decision to add Atlanta flights is an interesting one. Currently Ethiopian Airlines’ destinations in the United States include Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK), and Washington (IAD). In the past, the airline also flew to Houston (IAH) and Los Angeles (LAX), though both of those routes have been suspended for quite some time.

As you can see, with the exception of New York, Ethiopian Airlines has otherwise exclusively flown to United Airlines hubs in the United States, given that both airlines belong to Star Alliance, so that’s ideal for being able to offer feed within the United States.

As far as service to Africa from Atlanta goes, currently Delta Air Lines flies from its largest hub to Cape Town (CPT), Johannesburg (JNB), and Lagos (LOS).

While there’s no doubt a fair bit of demand between Atlanta and various African markets, I’m curious if the numbers are enough to make this service work based on Ethiopia’s geographic, especially without connectivity in Atlanta. Most demand to Africa from Atlanta is either to West Africa (in which case connecting in Ethiopia isn’t efficient) or South Africa (which Delta already serves).

With the size of Ethiopian Airlines’ Africa network, I imagine the airline can probably make this work, but it doesn’t seem like a slam dunk. For example, pre-pandemic the annual demand between Addis Ababa and Atlanta was 14,000 passengers per year, which isn’t insignificant, but also isn’t enough to make a route like this work.

I imagine Ethiopian will largely work to undercut Delta on pricing between Atlanta and South Africa, which will probably be a significant source of demand for this flight.

Ethiopian Airlines is expanding to Atlanta

Bottom line

As of May 2023, Ethiopian Airlines will launch a new 4x weekly flight between Addis Ababa and Atlanta using a Boeing 787. It’s great to see Ethiopian expanding in the United States, especially to a non-United hub. With limited connectivity, this will no doubt be a tougher route than some existing service, so I’m curious how long it lasts.

What do you make of Ethiopian Airlines’ new flight to Atlanta?

Conversations (44)
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  1. Nitro Guest

    Ethiopian ex-CEO works for Delta now as an advisor. perhaps, he had to do something with this destination.

  2. Adam Guest

    We need Ethiopian airline flying from Bradley international airport

  3. Guanda Guest

    This is wonderful. I prefer this airline over most flying to Africa. It is wonderful that it is the one airline itself and not having to con nect with other airline which extends time more for travel.

  4. Melaku Guest

    Great news
    Congratulations Ethiopia airlines and congrats to Atlanta Ethiopia’s people

  5. Mesay Guest

    This is a great news for Atlanta we need Ethiopian airlines to go to MPLS (Minnesota) to Addis

  6. Michael Johnson Guest

    Atlanta has a large Indian population; I can see them using this route for connections to India.

  7. WUBESHT Guest

    OMG. I have been waiting for this news for more than 30 years. Having lived in Atlanta for the last 30 years and having to make ridiculous connections through out Europe and Africa it is Awesome gift to the City of Atlanta and Southeastern United States. The beauty of this gift is that it arrived three-days after our orthodox Christmas. You know what I will take anyways. I am booking my flight for June right away, I know it going to be Sold Out!!
    Wubesht

  8. Zb Guest

    Your 14,000 per year assessment excludes many passengers that take domestic flights to other cities in search of flights to Africa. Most of us actually drive to DC to take flights from there.

  9. ALS Guest

    This is the point of view of a non Ethiopian:
    1. Improve the quality of your meals especially for economy class which makes the majority of passengers. Last time I travelled with you we were given a cycadelic pink custard desert.
    The colour put many passengers off. This is kindergarten stuff!
    2. On this 6+ hour flight I sat on a seat that could not recline. I could not relax and had...

    This is the point of view of a non Ethiopian:
    1. Improve the quality of your meals especially for economy class which makes the majority of passengers. Last time I travelled with you we were given a cycadelic pink custard desert.
    The colour put many passengers off. This is kindergarten stuff!
    2. On this 6+ hour flight I sat on a seat that could not recline. I could not relax and had a stiff neck, adding to my already ailing back!
    3. The low budget meals offered in transit hotels are awful. I travelled with a white couple and children and were looking forward to eating Njela they said. When I looked at the sauces, stale and hard baked potatoes I felt ashamed on ET's behalf and as an African. The couple ate njela and salad? There was a private buffet next to us where the food was better. When I complained they served me from that buffet.
    How much does ET pay the hotels for them to make such poor food for passengers?
    3. The overcrowding, chauving and pushing at the African flight departure gates down stairs, I don't have words to describe it! I felt like I was in a crowded village market, but this was Bole international airport - really??
    If passengers had a choice they would have no business taking ET to go through all these hussles.
    4. Congratulations and good luck for offering this new route.
    ET management should remember that this is long hours of flying. Passengers will only choose this route if the incentives to travel with you are really good. Otherwise the project will be shortlived.
    Thank you.

  10. Bellewa Guest

    Great news for all Ethiopian and African passengers - including myself. I had bought a rocket already to Fly Ethiopian from Chicago. Cancelation on the works to book from ATL. Kudos Ethiopian! We missed the homey services with smile that no airline can match!

  11. Sara Guest

    It will be a very helpful to alleviate the challenges that travelers have to go through with the connection flight. So, this will be a great opportunity for people in Georgia! I am exited to see Ethiopian Airlines Expanding and serving its customers. Excellent job!

    1. GP_7677 Guest

      I’m guessing the Priority Pass lounge, The Club ATL. It’s the only option other than a tiny United Club on the opposite end of the airport.

    2. DLPTATL Diamond

      Agreed, the United club is just too far away in Concourse T. A passenger would need to check-in in the International Terminal and take the Plane Train 6 stops and walk half the length of a terminal to get to the UA lounge which wasn't designed for international pax.

  12. Osman A. Guest

    Kudos #EthiopianAirlines!!!
    Imo, one load picks up, am sure they will start using their B777s for higher payload uplift.

  13. Vinoji samuel Guest

    I will definitely fly this one( flying 2 - 3 times from atlanta with my wife ). I have been looking to use two connections to lilongwe for long time. Definitely there is a connection agreement i believe. Delta will benefit also taking passengers to other cities. As South African stopped , this is my best connection .

  14. Zeleka B Workneh Guest

    I am happy to see this come to pass. Several years ago I sat in a meeting with Mr. Maynard Jackson who used to be a Mayor of Atlanta, and a representative that came from Ethiopia in the effort of bringing Ethiopian Airlines to Atlanta.
    At the time, I happened to be working for one of his companies, and he invited me to sit at the meeting to make the guest at ease, and...

    I am happy to see this come to pass. Several years ago I sat in a meeting with Mr. Maynard Jackson who used to be a Mayor of Atlanta, and a representative that came from Ethiopia in the effort of bringing Ethiopian Airlines to Atlanta.
    At the time, I happened to be working for one of his companies, and he invited me to sit at the meeting to make the guest at ease, and also to explain what was said in detail with our own language Amharic.
    Any how Mr. Jackson would have been so proud to see ET Airlines arrives in Atlanta.

    I am very happy, and look forward to fly home with Ethiopian Airlines.

  15. Hiro Diamond

    Certainly the new flight will not connect from CPT smoothly, which will require a 24hr transit in ADD.

  16. DLPTATL Guest

    I hope that this drives down prices on DL to S Africa both in $s and points. Delta absolutely gouges on this route, perhaps more than any other trans-Atlantic route given the monopoly they have.

  17. GP_7676 Guest

    As someone based in Atlanta and always repositioning for award flights because of Skymiles's terrible value, this is great news. There is also a sizeable Ethiopian population here.

  18. MaxPower Guest

    Let's hope they don't rent out Fox Theatre to celebrate their arrival. We know how well Delta reacts to new international airlines in Atlanta.

  19. Jesse Guest

    This is great, as it adds another single-airline option from Moscow to Atlanta, which is a frequent trip for me. As of now, I can only fly Turkish as a single-airline itinerary from Moscow to Atlanta, and they charge out the wazoo for tickets to/from Russia at the moment. If the price is right, then I'll consider Ethiopian.

    1. Alex Guest

      Zero premium demand on this with very few Indian passengers preferring ET to QR. There is demand to Addis, Asmara and Hargeisa, but there’s not much else unless you include Kenya. Not sure connecting over ADD will be desirable given the terribly lengthy return. Consolidators will love this flight as long as it last.

  20. DaBluBoi Guest

    With ET's many flights making fuel stops at DUB, I wonder if it would be profitable to make at least one of them actually stop at DUB both ways to pick up passengers. After all, they used to fly there pre-pandemic, plus Dublin has seen an increasing amount of Africans moving in. Furthermore, it would be pretty cool to redeem miles for an ET trans-Atlantic flight!

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Very difficult to make this work in most North American markets with the need to hit the connecting banks in Addis. The extra hour (at least) on the Eastbound legs would ruin that. The Chicago (and now the Atlanta) flights are already pushing the limit with very tiny margins of error.

  21. Stuart in Georgia Guest

    I've long fancied a trip to South Africa, but Delta's pricing and lack of award availability has kept that plan on the back burner.

    I would happily transfer through ADD if they offer a more reasonable fare.

  22. Ahmad Guest

    Addis Ababa is in East Africa and it’s also one of the most geographically efficient connecting points to get to other East African destinations such as Nairobi and Dar es Salaam…

  23. JB Guest

    The CDC also has a number of staff routinely traveling from ATL to Ethiopia (and other parts in Africa), so there is some demand from there. There is also a decent number of Ethiopians in ATL (I lived there for a couple years recently).

    They could target traffic to the Middle East as well (and maybe India) with connections from ADD. They would compete with QR (and maybe Turkish).

    Atlanta is an interesting choice...

    The CDC also has a number of staff routinely traveling from ATL to Ethiopia (and other parts in Africa), so there is some demand from there. There is also a decent number of Ethiopians in ATL (I lived there for a couple years recently).

    They could target traffic to the Middle East as well (and maybe India) with connections from ADD. They would compete with QR (and maybe Turkish).

    Atlanta is an interesting choice for Ethiopian. Very excited to see the Ethiopian Dreamliner at ATL. But ATL is an interesting market. It is dominated by DL and its partners. Besides BA, QR, and Turkish, I'm surprised what other international non-skyteam airlines can fill their seats to ATL.

    1. Jason Guest

      Lufthansa has been in Atlanta for 40 years or so too.

    2. DLPTATL Diamond

      Lufthansa has been able to maintain the route, but it wasn't popular enough for them to maintain their lounge in Terminal E. It's been sitting vacant for more than 15 years.

    3. JB Guest

      Yes, but I wonder how profitable LH's ATL flights are. I assume there may be some cargo incentive, as I doubt there are too many passengers flying on LH from ATL. Delta has flights to a bunch of German cities, giving LH some serious competition and has feed at ATL which helps to fill their flights.

      Even BA's flights from ATL aren't too full normally. American will often sell tickets from its hubs onto BA...

      Yes, but I wonder how profitable LH's ATL flights are. I assume there may be some cargo incentive, as I doubt there are too many passengers flying on LH from ATL. Delta has flights to a bunch of German cities, giving LH some serious competition and has feed at ATL which helps to fill their flights.

      Even BA's flights from ATL aren't too full normally. American will often sell tickets from its hubs onto BA flights through ATL at a cheaper fare (compared to flying nonstop).

    4. DT Guest

      CM who is in *A also flies to ATL, they stated flights last December and from what I’ve heard are holding their own quite well against DL and it’s multiple nonstop flights to Latin America. They are undercutting DL quite often on price to Latin America and becoming a popular choice among Atlanta’s growing Latino/Hispanic community, ET will do the same but just with the Africa market. AC, BA and lesser extent LH fly to...

      CM who is in *A also flies to ATL, they stated flights last December and from what I’ve heard are holding their own quite well against DL and it’s multiple nonstop flights to Latin America. They are undercutting DL quite often on price to Latin America and becoming a popular choice among Atlanta’s growing Latino/Hispanic community, ET will do the same but just with the Africa market. AC, BA and lesser extent LH fly to almost every major/medium sized American city because the market to their respective countries are so huge from the US so I wouldn’t count them in any conversation about an airline flying to a non alliance hub.

    5. DLPTATL Diamond

      @DT - I had the same thought on Copa after I posted.

      They have helped to tamp down Delta's fares to PTY to the point where I've gladly paid cash to fly in domestic first on DL on this route.

  24. Sean M. Diamond

    I think there may be some level of closer co-operation between Ethiopian and Delta developing in the background. Remember that Ethiopian's former CEO is now working for Delta, and Delta has been looking to take more defensive measures against United's growth in Africa. A friendly SPA between the two airlines could help both sides while still maintaining some level of independence.

    1. Icarus Guest

      Ed Bastian and his predecessor Richard Anderson never worked for ET. It makes little sense for connecting traffic given it’s a DL hub and they are star alliance. Would make more sense to fly to Houston.

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      The problem with Houston is that it can't work out of the night bank (which has the overwhelming majority of African feed) without a 20 hour ground time. They tried it out of the morning bank and it didn't live up to expectations. Atlanta is about as far as they can push it on a 1.5 day rotation from the night bank. They will probably retry Houston out of the "third bank" via West Africa...

      The problem with Houston is that it can't work out of the night bank (which has the overwhelming majority of African feed) without a 20 hour ground time. They tried it out of the morning bank and it didn't live up to expectations. Atlanta is about as far as they can push it on a 1.5 day rotation from the night bank. They will probably retry Houston out of the "third bank" via West Africa once ASKY sets up their second bank in Lome (or at least feed from Lagos and Accra to the transatlantic).

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Sean, what about Miami?

      Figured it'd be able to hit the same connection bank, it's been clamoring for the return of African nonstops, and has no real competition.

      Shocked that ET passed on it for ATL, considering the latter's guard-dog.

  25. Nelson Gold

    Hi Ben, sorry if I'm wrong, but as far as my geographical knowledge goes, ADD is East Africa.
    And "If Addis Ababa were at ground level", shouldn't that be Sea Level?
    Sorry, I don't want to teach anyone, surely not you but just an observation. Keep up the great work!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Nelson -- Correct on both fronts, thanks!

  26. Jason Guest

    You say the following:
    Most demand to Africa from Atlanta is either to East Africa (in which case connecting in Ethiopia isn’t efficient) or South Africa (which Delta already serves).

    Ethiopia is basically, geographically, as Far East in Africa as you can go. Where else would you suggest might be a better connecting place in east Africa if most of the demand is, as you say, to east Africa?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jason -- Sorry, hadn't had enough coffee. Meant to write West Africa. I updated the post to reflect that now.

    2. Jason Guest

      Ah!!! Makes sense! Interesting and I’ll be curious to see how this flight does. Thanks for writing about it

    3. Felix K Guest

      Ethiopian Airlines has a stopover in Lome for US originated flights. From there West Africa passengers connect with ASKY their subsidiary.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sean M. Diamond

I think there may be some level of closer co-operation between Ethiopian and Delta developing in the background. Remember that Ethiopian's former CEO is now working for Delta, and Delta has been looking to take more defensive measures against United's growth in Africa. A friendly SPA between the two airlines could help both sides while still maintaining some level of independence.

5
Sean M. Diamond

The problem with Houston is that it can't work out of the night bank (which has the overwhelming majority of African feed) without a 20 hour ground time. They tried it out of the morning bank and it didn't live up to expectations. Atlanta is about as far as they can push it on a 1.5 day rotation from the night bank. They will probably retry Houston out of the "third bank" via West Africa once ASKY sets up their second bank in Lome (or at least feed from Lagos and Accra to the transatlantic).

3
Zeleka B Workneh Guest

I am happy to see this come to pass. Several years ago I sat in a meeting with Mr. Maynard Jackson who used to be a Mayor of Atlanta, and a representative that came from Ethiopia in the effort of bringing Ethiopian Airlines to Atlanta. At the time, I happened to be working for one of his companies, and he invited me to sit at the meeting to make the guest at ease, and also to explain what was said in detail with our own language Amharic. Any how Mr. Jackson would have been so proud to see ET Airlines arrives in Atlanta. I am very happy, and look forward to fly home with Ethiopian Airlines.

2
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