Wednesday 23 October 2019

Ethiopian Airlines set to axe Dublin stopover on LA flight

Ticket sales from Dublin to US city have been halted, writes Fearghal O'Connor

Dublin Airport is set to lose out as Ethiopian Airlines is set to axe its service to Los Angeles. (Stock picture)
Dublin Airport is set to lose out as Ethiopian Airlines is set to axe its service to Los Angeles. (Stock picture)

Ethiopian Airlines is set to axe its Dublin service to Los Angeles as it reorganises its European network.

The airline currently flies from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Los Angeles with a stopover in Dublin, where it picks up passengers in both directions. But Dublin looks likely to lose out, with the airline considering re-routing the LA flight via Lagos in Nigeria.

The airline, which is a member of the massive Star Alliance group, has already stopped selling tickets online for the Dublin service after mid-December and removed it from its schedule.

A spokeswoman said that she could not yet give a definitive response regarding the future of the Dublin stopover, but confirmed that the route is "under evaluation by HQ". Los Angeles is understood to be a very profitable destination for the rapidly-expanding African carrier, but a final decision as to whether it will be served by Dublin or Lagos will be made over the next few days.

Ethiopian began flying into Dublin in 2015 and routes a number of its transatlantic flights via the airport for refuelling, although the LA flight is the only one with so-called fifth freedom rights to pick up passengers in Ireland. Fifth freedom rights are sometimes controversial with local carriers who object to the extra competition.

If the Dublin stopover is axed then Irish based passengers who have booked to fly to Los Angeles with the airline will be rerouted with other airlines, the spokeswoman said.

The airline is also considering a new route to Dublin from Addis Ababa that would fly via Madrid, but a final decision is also awaited on this, it is understood. The move by Ethiopian to abandon its north Atlantic stopover comes as growing competition and rising oil prices have started to bite on transatlantic routes.

Last week, Icelandic-based low-cost carrier Wow announced that it was quitting three routes into the US midwest just months after announcing them. Wow said it would end services to St Louis, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Wow's base in Reykjavik is seen as one of the key competing hubs to Dublin in the growing low-cost transatlantic market that has been pioneered by Aer Lingus and Norwegian.

One aviation source said that Wow's departure from the three cities could present opportunities for Aer Lingus to deploy some of the Airbus A321LR aircraft that it is due to have delivered over the next number of years.

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