Ethiopian Airlines set to become first African carrier serving Chicago
Ethiopian Airlines will start nonstop service between Addis Ababa and Chicago in June of this year.
By Lewis Lazare – Reporter, Chicago Business Journal
Ethiopian Airlines will be the first airline based in Africa to serve Chicago.
The carrier said that on June 9, it will begin nonstop service three times a week between Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital.
The new Ethiopian Airlines route will become the eighth new international route planned to launch from Chicago in 2018, including new service to Budapest, Venice and London-Gatwick Airport.
"This landmark route will unlock new opportunities for the City of Chicago and travelers across the globe," Evans said. "We look forward to partnering with Ethiopian Airlines to deliver new tourism and economic opportunities here and throughout Africa."
Ethiopian's move to serve Chicago comes more than 10 years after South African Airways, another high-profile African carrier, announced it would starting serve Chicago in 2007 from its headquarters hub in Johannesburg, South Africa. But months later, without explanation, South African Airways suddenly reversed its decision to serve Chicago, and nothing has been heard from the airline since then.
But Ethiopian Airlines, which has a strong 4-star rating from Skytrax, the airline industry's respected independent rating service, looks to be picking up where South African Airways left off.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebre Mariam, said of the new service: "Ethiopian Airlines is striving to accelerate the U.S.-Africa connection as part of our service expansion plan. From Chicago O'Hare, one of the best connected airports in the U.S., we will propel connections between Africa to the rest of the world like never before. We are well positioned to provide the missing link in connecting Africa with its major trading partners in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North and South America."
Ethiopian's entry into Chicago could become a competitive threat for the three Middle East carriers serving Chicago, namely Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Part of their strategy entering Chicago was to provide connecting service to Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Asian destinations not easily reached via other carriers from Chicago.
Now Ethiopian could provide another more attraction option for travelers en route to Africa and possibly beyond. Ethiopian serves 55 destinations in Africa from its hub in Addis Ababa, as well as destinations in the Indian Ocean region.
Ethiopian's new Chicago route will depart O'Hare on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on a 270-seat Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner with 24 angle-flat seats in its Cloud Nine-branded business class and 246 seats in the economy cabin.
The Chicago Department of Aviation expects the new route will generate $70 million in annual economic impact in the Chicago area.
SOURCE : CHICAGO BUSINESS JOURNAL