The fifth freedom route between Los Angeles and Dublin operated by Ethiopian Airlines is coming to an end. The route forms part of the very long journey from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles, using the company’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The route is sufficiently long that the airline needs to stop in Dublin to refuel, and during the stop, it can take on and disembark passengers, who are only traveling on the Dublin to LA segment. While the route will continue, for now, the airline has stopped accepting bookings from either Dublin to Los Angeles or from Los Angeles to Dublin.
While the move is odd and seems to make little commercial sense, it brings the Addis Ababa to Los Angeles route in line with other routes the company operates to the US. Currently, the airline operates three routes to US destinations: Newark, Chicago, and Washington.
Currently, both the Chicago and Washington routes operate with a refueling stop in Dublin, however in both cases, Ethiopian does not have the right to pick up or drop off passengers. The route from Addis Ababa to Newark operates one day via Lome, Togo, and the other day via Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.
On the Newark route, Ethiopian operates fifth freedom routes from both African cities. According to One Mile At A Time, rumors on the Ethiopian Airlines Facebook page indicate that the airline will continue to operate a route to LAX, but instead of a refueling stop in Dublin, the company will now be stopping in Lagos LOS, Nigeria.
Whether in the long run, Ethiopian starts to operate a fifth freedom route between Lagos and Los Angeles remains to be seen, although it probably will. Indeed, this will mean that all its routes to the US that stop in Africa for refueling will have a similar operating pattern.
Although the move from refueling in Dublin to refueling in Lagos may seem odd at first, it can make a lot of commercial sense. The transatlantic route between the US and Europe is the most competitive in the world, and Ethiopian is competing with a whole host of big carriers. On the other hand, the routes from Africa to the US are a lot less competitive, and yet there is sufficient demand for the company to be able to establish a strong presence. Considering the quality and service of Ethiopian, it is likely they are aiming to dominate the various routes from Africa to the US.