To comply with US new stringent security rules
As part of its service expansion plan, Ethiopian Airlines is planning to fly to Chicago, US, from its main hub in Addis Ababa as of June 2017.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam revealed that his airline is planning to start direct flight between Addis Ababa and Chicago next June. Ethiopian already flies to three destinations in the US: Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles; and Chicago will be the fourth destination.
Ethiopian, currently, has more than 100 international destinations and 54 of them are in Africa. “We are committed to connecting Africa with the rest of the world. We connect Africa with its major trading partners in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North and South America,” Tewolde said.
According to Tewolde, Ethiopian will also open new routes to Shenzhen city in China and Geneva, Switzerland. Ethiopian flies to five cities in China-Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Hong Kong. Shenzhen will be the sixth destination in China.
The new US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Michel Rayner, welcomed Ethiopian’s latest move to expand its route network in the US. Ambassador Rayner said that the US and Ethiopia have a long standing partnership in the field of aviation that dates back to 1935 when Colonel John Charles Robinson, the famous Afro American aviator, came to Ethiopia to train pilots.
He also mentioned the agreement that Ethiopia signed with Trans World Airline (TWA), an American airline that led to the birth of Ethiopian Airlines in 1945. “I have spent most of my diplomatic carrier in Africa and I have witnessed Ethiopian’s remarkable growth,” the Ambassador said.
However, flying to the US is not an easy ride these days. Securing landing right from the US Ministry of Transport and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a big challenge for foreign airlines. Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways and Egypt Air are the only three carriers from Africa flying to the US, currently. Recently, Kenya Airways also got clearance to fly to the US.
In addition to that, U.S.-bound passengers are facing a new wave of stricter airline security measures, which varies from tougher bag checks to questioning from ticket agents. As part of the Trump administration’s effort to beef up global aviation security, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has instructed all foreign carriers flying to the US to interview passengers before boarding.
New screening rules went into effect On October 26 for all US-bound airline passengers. The new rule applies more detailed inspections of carry-on bags and electronic devices, as well as security interviews by airlines employees. The new rules are part of an effort by the Department of Homeland Security to more thoroughly screen travelers heading to the United States.
The measures replace earlier rules that banned travelers from certain countries from bringing their laptops and other large electronic devices into the passenger cabin. That rule, for passengers from 10 airports in mostly Middle Eastern countries, was implemented in March 2017 amid concerns that the devices could be used to hide explosives. Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security rescinded the ban in July, provided airlines and airports meet more stringent screening standards.
As part of the new screening procedures, all US bound passengers are being interviewed by airline employees at the airport check in counters or boarding gates. The new screening is feared to increase wait time at security check points and check in counters.
Tewolde told The Reporter that Ethiopian has begun implementing the new security screening measures. He said that the new security measures did not affect Ethiopian operation to the US. “We are conducting the brief security interviews at the check-in counters and boarding gates. We are doing it in a very efficient manner so that there is no long queue. Since our mix of the traffic is like 50-50. 50 percent of it we do it at the counter because they are departing and the other 50 are transit passengers so we do it at the gate so it is not creating a problem. Everything is going smoothly.”
The new security screening measures will affect roughly 2,100 daily flights to the US and will apply to US citizens and foreign travelers on both American and global airlines.