Ethiopian airline seeks stopover in Dublin

Deal would allow African carrier to pick up Dublin passengers en route to Los Angeles

Ethiopian Airlines is considering launching a service from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles that would use Dublin as a stopover.

Ethiopian Airlines is considering launching a service from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles that would use Dublin as a stopover.

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 15:43

The Government has taken the first step towards a potentially controversial deal with Ethiopian Airlines that would allow the carrier to stop at Dublin airport to collect passengers while en route to Los Angeles.

Ethiopian’s chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam recently confirmed that the airline – Africa’s largest – is considering launching a service from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles that would use Dublin as a stopover and has already secured rights from the aviation regulator.

First step

A spokesman for the Department of Transport confirmed at the weekend that its staff have “initialled” a bi-lateral agreement with the Ethiopian authorities as a first step to allowing the airline to fly into Dublin airport but the Minister has yet sign off on the deal.

He added that the airline had yet to apply for so-called “fifth-freedom rights” which would entitle it to collect passengers at the Irish airport and fly them on to Los Angeles.

Any move to grant these rights could prove controversial. In a recent Dáil debate socialist TD Clare Daly, who represents a constituency that is home to large numbers of Dublin airport and Aer Lingus workers, questioned the initiative.

She claimed that some US carriers had threatened to pull out of the Republic were it to go ahead, and pointed out that Aer Lingus used to fly to the Californian city.

Direct routes

However, former minister for transport Leo Varadkar pointed out that the Republic currently has no direct routes to either Africa or Los Angeles.

“It would be in the greater business and tourism interests of Ireland as a whole to have direct routes to Africa and LA.

“I do not want to refuse an airline offering to open new routes on the basis that Irish or American airlines operating other routes believe it would somehow damage their interests.”

Aviation policy

The Government’s recently-published draft aviation policy includes a pledge to grant more fifth-freedom rights at the Republic’s airports. These allow non-EU and non-US airlines to collect passengers during stopovers here while en-route to somewhere else.

Mr Varadkar stressed that this was not a major policy departure. “We already have existing fifth-freedom agreements with non-EU, non-US countries including Singapore and Qatar.”

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