Funke Olaode in Houston, Texas
In its efforts to spread its services across major cities of the world, Ethiopian Airlines, a foremost airline in Africa, has launched its direct flight from Africa to Houston, United States.
The management of the airline stated that the historic flight would not only improve connectivity between Africa and Houston, but would, according to the Executive Director, Houston Airport, Mario Daiz, contribute about $100 million into the US economy yearly.
“Houston is now officially reconnected to the African continent through the efforts of Ethiopian Airlines to make business seamless for international travelers and others in the corporate world. Through the flight to Houston, Ethiopian Airlines is creating unity among people of diverse groups, promoting culture and strengthening values,” he stated.
Speaking at the launch of the inaugural flight held at the George Bush International Airport, Houston, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde Gabrielmariam, said the airline would operate three frequencies weekly from Lome, Togo, to Houston using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
He said with direct flight services to Houston from Lome, Ethiopian Airlines has been able to connect Houston to the entire continent of Africa, Middle East and Asia, adding that the launch makes the airlines 127th destination in the world.
He explained that the connections have been designed in such a way that it will be one of the most direct and fastest routes for Africa, Middle East and Asia, saying Houston is the fifth gateway in North America and the fourth in US next to Washington, New York and Chicago.
Speaking further, Gabrielmariam said the airline has been working very hard for a long period of time to fly to Houston, “but thanked God that the dream finally became a reality on December 16, 2019, with the inauguration of the direct flight into Houston. This is also a very important connection for East Africa, South Africa and Central Africa, and also a very important connection to West Africa. This is the only direct connection to West Africa because we are using our second half in Lome for West Africa to connect passengers to the entire West and Central Africa.”
He added that Ethiopian Airlines is now the largest airline on the continent with a fleet of 130 aircraft. “It is by far the airline with the most extensive network in the world connecting Africa to the rest of the world and within the continent.”
Gabrielmariam commended his management team and the over 16,000 workers across the globe for working day and night to ensure that the airline ‘shines in the sky’.
He also expressed his gratitude to the Houston Airport management for the warm welcome, adding: “I have never seen an airport so generous like Houston Airports. It is a customer-focused airport.”
At a brief ceremony before the flight took off in Lome, the capital of Togo, Vice-President of the Airlines, Rahel Assefail, said: “Ethiopian Airlines is happy to connect more cities in America to Africa because of the connection between West Africa and Houston. We, as a company, decided to route the airlines from Lome, West Africa, instead of home base in Addis Ababa. We hope this will increase the relationship between Africa and America.”
Some of the passengers, who spoke to THISDAY on the inaugural flight, expressed satisfaction at the high level of hospitality and professionalism of the airline.