Ethiopian Airlines has launched its inaugural three times weekly flights to Houston, Texas.
At a brief ceremony to flag off the inaugural flight in Lome, Togo, on Monday, the Ethiopian Airlines Vice President, Marketing, Rahel Assefa, assured passengers of exciting journey on the new route.
Newsmen on board report that the Ethiopian 787-8 aircraft to Houston flagged off the trip in Lome, enroute Houston for the grand breaking.
Newsmen also report that passengers on board of the inaugural flight were welcomed with special gifts, and the flight left for Houston immediately after Assefa addressed stakeholders at the Lome Airport.
According to her, it is going to be a good flight for the entire West African region travelling to Houston, Texas.
“From next week, we expected to see full booking from West Africa to Houston.
“Safety and Passengers comfortability remain our priority,” she told stakeholder.
Assefa said that the routes would allow passengers to fly nonstop on Ethiopian Airlines from Houston to Africa.
“Ethiopian’s service to Houston will operate from Addis Ababa via Lome in Togo with Boeing 787-8 aircraft.
“Early in 2019, we announced that we were changing our services to the United States.
“Service to Los Angeles will terminate in favour of a new thrice-weekly service from Addis Ababa to Houston via Lome, Togo,” she said.
The airlines vice president said that U.S was among the Ethiopian Airlines’ most important markets, owing to the presence of a large African community and growing business and tourism ties with Africa.
“Our new route structure with additional frequencies to multiple gateways and the opening of new route to Houston are aimed at responding to the market demands and availing best possible connectivity to over 60 African destinations.
“The service will depart Addis Ababa on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Houston departures are on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
“The flight will depart Addis Ababa after a stop in Lome and a long transatlantic flight; the aircraft will touch down in Houston the next day.
“Ethiopian’s aircraft will depart Houston at 11.00a.m and finally arrive in Addis Ababa the next day at 14:30p.m,” she said.
Assefa said Houston was chosen because Ethiopian Airlines does not face much competition from Houston to Africa.
”In fact, the airline will be the only carrier to offer flights from Houston to Africa.
“Economically speaking, Houston is an oil and business hub. Thus, there is a significant potential for business connectivity that Ethiopian Airlines is trying to gain access to.
“Business and leisure travellers alike will have only one nonstop option to Africa from Houston.
“Addis Ababa is at a high altitude. Thus, the aerodynamics concerning take off is not favourable for launching nonstop service to the United States.
”In fact, Ethiopian Airlines flies several one-stops from Addis Ababa to the United States and other destinations in part due to this problem.
“However, instead of operating nonstop in the East bound, Ethiopian Airlines can route via Lome and offer additional connections there through ASKY airlines- with whom Ethiopian Airlines partners,” she said.
Assefa said Ethiopian Airlines keeps on growing, adding that with this new flight, Africa’s largest carrier would offer new connections both to and from the U.S.
She described Africa as a unique and growing aviation market with incredible potential.
Also speaking, Area Manager for Ethiopian Aiŕlines in Lome, Mr Elias Gebrelmadin, said the 787-8 aircraft was the latest technology, adding that it was going to be a direct flight from Lome to Houston.
Gebrelmadin said that the official launch of the Ethiopian Airlines in Lome was to demonstrate commitment and readiness to serve its customers better.
According to him, Lome will be an assembly ground for passengers coming from all African countries to board direct flights to Houston.
“The flight is affordable than any other flights going to Houston in United States. From next year, we are going to introduce discounts for passengers.
“We have designed a special package to ensure effective customer friendly services that is second to none,” he said.
The Lome Area manager said the flight was distinct because “it is direct and timely compared to other airlines,” he said.