About a month ago, Ethiopian Airlines put on sale their flight to Houston via Lome. Then, the airline canceled the route without much of an indication as what was next. Now, one of Africa’s leading carriers is reinstating flights to Houston via Lome, but under a different schedule than their last announcement. But, this begs the question, has Ethiopian reached its peak?
The “new” Houston service
Houston’s only service to Africa will now commence this December. According to an Ethiopian press release, the thrice-weekly flights will commence on December 16th, 2019. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, a Boeing 787 will depart Addis Ababa to Houston via Lome. The flight will depart at 8:30, arriving in Lome at 11:20.
At 12:40, ET518 will depart Lome and arrive on the same day in Houston at 20:20. Then, the aircraft will sit on the ground until the next day.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, the return flight will depart Houston at 16:00 and arrive in Lome at 11:40 the next day. At 12:40, the aircraft will depart Lome to Addis Ababa and arrive the same day at 21:00.
Basically, Ethiopian Airlines is shifting their departure times at both ends of the route. Ethiopian probably rejigged this service to better align with connections at their hub in Addis Ababa, with ASKY in Lome, and United in Houston.
Has Ethiopian reached its peak?
Ethiopian has had an interesting relationship with adding flights to the United States. Houston is replacing Los Angeles, which makes sense if Ethiopian would rather offer connections. But there is something to be said about this. Flights with Ethiopian, unless you are going to West Africa, do not necessarily have an advantage. Even with flights to Addis Ababa, this one-stop does not add much appeal. And, beyond Addis Ababa, this turns into a three-stop itinerary if a passenger is originating from beyond Houston.
Also, Ethiopian’s product is not terribly competitive. Compared to other options such as Delta One, Swiss business class, or soon British Airways Club Suites, Ethiopian could just be an inconvenient long-haul option. Even now, Ethiopian is still adopting more modern features, like WiFi, which could be an essential for some on a long-haul flight.
This is not necessarily Ethiopian’s fault. Addis Ababa is a hot and high airport that greatly limits Ethiopian’s nonstop long-haul abilities. Only time will tell whether this works out for Ethiopian.
Ethiopian is one of Africa’s leading carriers. They have an impressive footprint on the continent. However, there is plenty of competition for the airline. Hopefully, this route to Houston does not turn into Garuda’s route to London that just does not work and keeps changing.
Will you fly Ethiopian from Houston to Africa? Let us know in the comments!