Ethiopian Airlines will launch flights out of Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in December — several months later than originally planned.
The new service will operate three times per week beginning Dec. 15, according to a press release from the Houston Airport System. The nonstop route will connect IAH to Lomé–Tokoin Airport (LFW) in Lomé, the capital of Togo in West Africa.
The press release noted that the new route will help facilitate travel for those in the oil and gas industry and other companies doing business in the region. It will also serve the large African community the Houston area, which is home to the largest Nigerian community in the U.S., per the release.
The new Houston route is particularly noteworthy for IAH because it means the airport once again will offer direct flights to all six inhabited continents. A charter flight between IAH and Angola — the only direct passenger route between Houston and Africa at the time — ended in spring 2018.
Now, Ethiopian Airlines will become the 21st foreign carrier with passenger flights at IAH, per the release.
“The Houston Airport System has been committed to re-establishing the direct connection with our city and region to Africa, and we fully support Ethiopian Airlines in bringing this effort to fruition,” Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz said in the release. “We’re extremely pleased to partner with Ethiopian, the world’s fourth-largest airline by the number of countries served, and further strengthen our international connections to the key global market of Africa.”
When the route was originally announced in January, it was expected to launch in the summer of 2019. However, it appears that Ethiopian Airlines had to rework the route several times, according to One Mile at a Time, an air travel blog owned by PointsPros Inc. Originally, it appeared that the route would start on June 23, per the blog.
The new Houston flight is part of a restructuring of Ethiopian Airlines’ routes, which included eliminating its Los Angeles route.
“The U.S. is among our most important markets owing to the presence of a large African community and growing investment, trade and tourism relations with Africa,” Tewolde GebreMariam, group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said in the release. “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 demand and availing the best possible connectivity between the USA and over 60 African destinations.
The new flights will provide the only direct and most efficient connections between Houston and West Africa.”
Ethiopian Airlines also has made headlines this past year for a crash involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in March. It was the second deadly crash involving a 737 Max in just over five months, following a Lion Air crash in October 2018. Shortly after the March crash, all 737 aircraft were grounded around the world.
Ethiopian Airlines will operate the IAH-LFW route using a Boeing 787-8, per One Mile at a Time.
By Olivia Pulsinelli