On April 4th, four Boeing 777-200LR aircraft flew to Louisiana. Although a vibrant and charming city worth a visit, four Ethiopian Airlines 777s made a rare appearance in New Orleans on a mission. The aircraft were chartered to fly cruise ship employees back to their homes.
The four 777 flights into New Orleans
First up, tracking from Flightradar24.com shows that ET-ANQ, an eight-year-old 777-200LR flew in to Chicago from Frankfurt, Germany, before continuing on to New Orleans. After a few hours on the ground, the plane took off as ET8302 Saturday night en route to Addis Ababa. The total flight time from New Orleans to Addis Ababa is about 14 hours.
ET-ANR, an eight-year-old 777-200LR, flew ET500 into Washington-Dulles from Addis Ababa via Dublin. Then, the aircraft operated a positioning leg from Washington-Dulles to New Orleans per data from Flightradar24.com. Then, on the night of April 4th, the aircraft took off for nonstop service to Addis Ababa as ET8402.
The next aircraft, ET-ANP, was a nine-year-old 777-200LR that flew into New Orleans from Addis Ababa via Lome, Togo. The aircraft took off in the early hours of April 5th as ET8502 heading for Addis Ababa according to Flightradar24.com.
The fourth and final 777-200LR positioned to New Orleans from Stockholm, Sweden, via Washington-Dulles per Flightradar24. This aircraft, ET-ANO, is flying ET8602 nonstop to Ethiopia.
As to the nature of these flights, there was plenty of speculation to go around. However, New Orleans Airport clarified on Twitter that these flights are charters. Onboard each plane will be crew members flying home from Carnival Cruise ships docked in the area in New Orleans, Galveston, and Mobile.
Hi there. @CarnivalCruise is actually using Ethiopian Air charters to send several crew members home from ships docked in New Orleans, Galveston, and Mobile.
— New Orleans Airport (@flyneworleans) April 5, 2020
Why Ethiopian Airlines?
A majority of cruise ship employees come from around the world. As a result, getting those employees home takes a fair bit of navigation. Ethiopian Airlines has an incredible route network and had the right planes to fly these employees.
There is also another matter to consider here. In recent days, airline employees have expressed concern with flying cruise ship passengers and employees. A number of ships have been home to outbreaks of the virus and, as a result, there is some fear about flying these people. Recently, a United Airlines crew refused to fly with a host of passengers from a cruise ship. It could be likely that major US airlines declined the charters due to concerns from the crew leading to Ethiopian Airlines getting the contract.
Were you onboard any of these charters? Did you see these planes come into New Orleans? Let us know in the comments!