Ethiopian Airlines Explores Malta Potential

Credit: Joe Pries

Talks are underway for Ethiopian Airlines to launch nonstop flights to Malta, as well as flying onwards to destinations in the U.S.

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela hosted his Ethiopian counterpart Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in Valletta, Malta's capital, where the two discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the countries, particularly in aviation.

Abela noted that Ethiopian Airlines is progressing plans to launch operations between its Addis Ababa (ADD) hub and Malta (MLA), as well as flying from Malta to cities in the U.S. He highlighted that the proposed network expansion would help to increase foreign investment in Malta.

Ethiopian Airlines operates six routes to North America at the present time; five to the U.S. and one to Canada. All of the carrier’s outbound services need to stop en route to refuel because of Addis Ababa’s high elevation at 2,334 m (7,625 ft.) above sea level.

Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser for the week commencing Feb. 6 shows that daily service from ADD to Washington Dulles (IAD) operates via Dublin (DUB), alongside 5X-weekly routes to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and Toronto Pearson (YYZ).

Ethiopian Airlines also serves Newark Liberty (EWR) and Washington Dulles three times per week, and New York John F Kennedy (JFK) twice a week via Togo’s capital Lomé (LFW).

The flag carrier began operating flights via Dublin in May 2015 and Lomé in July 2016. Prior to that, it served the North American market via Rome Fiumicino (FCO).

The Star Alliance member also flew to Newark from Abidjan (ABJ) in the Ivory Coast between May 2018 and June 2019, before switching flights to New York JFK. The latter Addis Ababa-Abidjan-New York JFK routing operated until the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and is yet to return.

Malta, located in the central Mediterranean some 80 km (50 mi.) from southern Italy, is currently without scheduled nonstop service to the U.S. Besides the Malta-Newark route operated by Lufthansa during the summer 2021 season—catering specifically for passengers taking Viking cruises from Valletta—there have been no nonstops for the past two decades.

Ethiopian’s proposed Malta expansion comes after the airline confirmed it has held “fruitful” talks with delegates from Denver about opening a new route to Colorado’s state capital. As with all U.S. airports served by carrier except JFK, Denver (DEN) is a hub for fellow Star Alliance member United Airlines.

“The city of Denver is another potential market in the U.S. for our airline," Ethiopian CEO Mesfin Tasew said. "We would be glad to add the city to our global network in the near future after making all the necessary plans and preparations.”

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.