Ethiopian Airlines’ Fifth Freedom Routes – An Ultimate Guide

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest airline, which has a network that takes passengers to Europe, North America, South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The only continent it hasn’t quite reached is Oceania. The majority of Ethiopian’s routes begin and end at its hub in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. However, the airline has quite a number of fifth freedom routes, allowing travelers far away from Addis to give the airline a try.

Ethiopian Airlines’ Fifth Freedom Routes – An Ultimate Guide
Ethiopian Airlines’ hub is in Addis Ababa. Photo: Ethiopian Airlines

In this article, we’ll go over Ethiopian’s fifth freedom routes region by region and include the aircraft that typically operate these routes:

Within Africa

With many African countries having small airlines with limited services, Ethiopian has stepped in to fill the role of a regional carrier. Kenya Airways also has a number of fifth freedom routes within Africa.

  • Harare – Lusaka: Two different Ethiopian flights operate this route between the capital cities of Zimbabwe and Zambia. ET35 uses a Dash 8 while ET873 can vary between an Airbus A350-900 and a Boeing 787-8. Flight 873 appears to be a triangle route, going from Addis to Harare, Harare to Lusaka, and finally Lusaka to Addis.
  • Bamako – Dakar: This route connects the capital cities of Mali and Senegal. The aircraft used on this route varies wildly between a Boeing 767-300, 777-300, 787-8 or a 787-9.
  • Entebbe – Juba: Using a small DH8, this flight connects Uganda’s capital city with South Sudan’s capital and largest city.
  • Kigali – Bujumbura: Connecting the capital cities of Rwanda and Burundi, Ethiopian flights between these two cities use a 787-8.
  • Malabo – Douala: This service connects Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea with Douala, which is the economic capital of Cameroon. This appears to be a triangle route, going from Addis to Malabo, Malabo to Douala, and then Douala to Addis. It is operated with a mix of aircraft, ranging from the 787-8 and -9 to the 777-300.
  • N’Djamena – Douala: This flight connects N’Djamena, the capital of Chad with Douala. Flights between these cities use the small Dash 8.
Ethiopian Airlines flies a handful of fifth freedom routes with the Boeing 777. Photo: Ethiopian Airlines

Africa to North America

  • Lomé – Newark: Typically flown by a Boeing 787-8, this 3x weekly flight connects Togo’s capital and New York City. Liberty International Airport in Newark is a United hub. United Airlines is a fellow Star Alliance member, giving Ethiopian travelers access to the rest of North America with United’s network.
  • Lomé – Houston: Also flown by a 787-8, this service happens only twice per week and connects Togo’s capital with United Airline’s hub in Houston.
  • Abidjan – New York: This flight between the economic capital of the Ivory Coast and New York’s JFK airport uses a Boeing 787-8.


  • Seoul – Tokyo: Connecting the major East Asian powerhouses of South Korea and Japan. This route operates with the 787-8 and goes from Seoul Incheon to Tokyo’s Narita airport.
  • Bangkok – Hong Kong: This service varies between a 787-8 and a -9.
  • Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur: This route is set to resume on March 28th and will operate with a Boeing 777.
  • Singapore – Kuala Lumpur: This extremely short 40-minute flight is flown by a Boeing 787-8. Interestingly, it’s not the only widebody on this short route. In fact, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia X and Singapore Airlines operate widebody aircraft between the two cities.
Ethiopian 787
Ethiopian has a fleet of 24 Boeing 787 aircraft. Photo: Boeing

Other regions

  • Stockholm – Oslo: With a travel time of under an hour, this flight is operated by a 787-9, a 777-200, or 777-300. This is definitely one of the few widebody flights connecting the two Scandinavian cities.
  • São Paulo – Buenos Aires: The only fifth freedom route in South America, this flight uses a Boeing 787-8.

It seems like Ethiopian’s fifth freedom routes – and its routes in general – are in constant flux. It looks like the Madrid-Dublin route is no longer in service. Interestingly, the airline also had a Los Angeles to Dublin route, which was eliminated in 2018. This would appear to have been Ethiopian’s only West Coast destination in North America. Too bad it’s gone.

Ethiopian A350
The A350 flies between Harare and Lusaka. Photo: Airbus


As Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian has really carved out an international presence for itself. Not only does it connect parts of North America and Europe to Africa, but it also connects to the Middle East and East Asia and Southeast Asia.

These fifth-freedom routes are a great way for travelers to experience this rapidly growing airline without having to transfer through Addis Ababa. This is the third article in a series of fifth-freedom pieces. If you’re interested in KLM’s fifth freedom routes, we’ve made a similar list for the Dutch carrier, as well for Emirates.

Have you flown any of the above services? If so, let us know in the comments if you liked them – or if you’d rather go with a local carrier.

Our thanks to The Australian Frequent Flyer for compiling the full list of fifth freedom routes. As always, the aircraft and schedules are subject to change.