Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) disclosed earlier this week that it is still talking to the Nigerian Government about securing the 5th freedom traffic rights needed to fly from Lagos to Houston Intc'l.

According to the Walta news agency, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tewolde Gabremariam made his plans to pursue the potential West Africa - US route evident at a luncheon organised for the airline by the US Bilateral Chamber of Commerce and Houston Airport.

Gabremariam indicated that the Texan city has the largest concentration of Nigerians in the US, with a population of 250,000, making it a win-win situation for the airline and US-based Nigerians if it is able to provide the connection in the future.

In the meantime, the carrier was using a local partner to transfer Nigerians to its Lomé hub, allowing them to pick up its US services. "We will be using ASKY Airlines (KP, Lomé), which is an airline we have 40% interest in, to convey passengers from Nigeria to Lomé - a 30-minute flight. From there, we now pick up other passengers to Houston on a direct flight," said Gabremariam. ASKY currently flies 6x weekly from Lomé to Abuja, as well as daily to Lagos.

“We are still discussing with the Nigerian Government to ensure that we get the landing rights. But in the meantime, Togo will be our hub for the West African market. So our Nigerian passengers should feel free to connect through Lomé to the US,” said Gabremariam.

In terms of its current West Africa to US operations, Ethiopian Airlines flies 3x weekly from Addis Ababa via Abidjan to New York JFK. In addition, it flies from the Ethiopian capital city via Lomé to Houston 3x weekly, as well as New York Newark 4x weekly.