East Africa: As Kenya Airways Struggles With the USA Route, Ethiopian Reacts

Africa’s First Ethiopian B787-9 at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

Ethiopian Airlines announces plans to 'restructure its entire U.S. network' which will see them opening new destination, adding frequencies and shifting gateways.

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest aviation group in Africa and alerted by a recent move by one of the major competitors Kenya Airways, has announced its plans to restructure its entire US network.

US market is increasingly becoming important for African airlines with several of them making flights either directly or with single stop-overs. These include Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Egypt Air.

Increased trade between Africa and the US has seen an increase in the number of visitors and tourists expanding the need to have more reliable flights between the two regions.

Kenya is the latest entrant into the route which initially kicked off the route through daily direct flights but has since reduced them to five trips per week.

This move will see the airline opening new destination, adding frequencies and shifting gateways by mid 2019. There has a special attention to flights connecting to the US from West Africa.

Accordingly, Washington D.C. flights will be increased from current daily to ten weekly flights, and will pass through Abidjan departing from Addis Ababa in the morning and arriving in Washington D.C. in the evening.

Chicago route has also been an important route for Ethiopian Airlines which the airline plans to increase to five trips from the current three.

From the planned daily flights to New York, four will be served via Lomé to Newark and three will be via Abidjan to JFK airport.

Ethiopian has also focused on the growing African community in Huoston as well as link to oil and gas companies in South of US who are doing business in Africa. To address this, the airline plans to have a new gateway in Houston, which will replace Los Angeles.

It will be served three times per week via West Africa. The new Houston flights will be the only connection between Houston and Africa.

Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, laid out the plans for the new expansion.

"The U.S. is among our most important markets owing to the presence of a large African community and growing business and tourism ties with Africa. Our new route structure with additional frequencies to multiple gateways and the opening of new route to Houston are aimed at responding to the market demand and availing best possible connectivity to over 60 African destinations," GebreMariam said.

"In line with our Vision 2025 strategic road-map, we will keep on expanding our U.S. and African network so as to facilitate people-to-people ties and the flow of investment, trade and tourism."

Africa's leading carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has been expanding its international destinations which have now reached more than 119. Manchester, Moscow and Mogadishu are just some of the new destinations the airline launched recently.

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