Addis Ababa-based Ethiopian Airlines says it is still interested in securing fifth freedom rights in Nigeria for services to the United States. However, could this put Ethiopian’s existing Lomé to Houston services at risk?
More specifically, Ethiopian Airlines wants to begin flights to Houston from Lagos. The carrier already has an option for Nigerian passengers to fly to Houston through its existing services from Lomé. The carrier has a partnership with ASKY Airlines which operates daily Lomé to Lagos services as well as 6x weekly flights to Abuja. From Lomé, passengers are able to connect onto Ethiopian’s Addis Ababa-Lomé-Houston services. Ethiopian Airlines has a 40% stake in ASKY Airlines.
The carrier seeks fifth freedom rights at the Nigerian capital, however if the services are to go ahead it seems that the existing Lomé to Houston services may be at risk. The Lomé route, launched just a couple of days ago on December 16, heavily relies on connecting traffic. In fact, Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 787-8s stay on the ground for a whopping 20 hours in Houston to time the arrival with ASKY’s flights to Nigeria. For reference, Lomé is only a 30 minute hop from Nigeria.
Could we see Ethiopian Airlines terminating it’s Lomé to Houston route? Or will Ethiopian decide to launch Lagos to Houston flights alongside it?