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Ethiopian Airlines Is Considering Fifth-Freedom Flights To Canada


  • Ethiopian Airlines is considering expanding its fifth-freedom flights to Canada
  • The airline hopes to fill demand as there are currently no direct flights between West Africa and Canada.
  • The airline is awaiting approval from authorities in both Ghana and Canada for the new routes.

Ethiopian Airlines is looking into operating fifth-freedom flights from Accra, Ghana, to Canada. The flights would complement the carrier’s current fifth-freedom service to Toronto via Dublin, Ireland, which occurs four times weekly.

The airline expects the routes to meet demand as Canada is reportedly a popular destination for travelers from Ghana. Currently, there are no direct flights between West Africa and Canada.

Hoping for more slots

According to, Ethiopian is interested in offering fifth-freedom flights to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) and Montréal–Trudeau International Airport (YUL) from Kotoka International Airport (ACC) in Accra. Fifth-freedom flights are international airline routes that operate between two countries outside of the home country of the carrier offering the service. The flights to YYZ and YUL are reportedly pending approval from authorities in Ghana and Canada.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 flying

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Last week, Lemma Yadecha Gudeta, Ethiopian’s Chief Commercial Officer, spoke about the airline’s interest, according to

“We are interested in a 5th Freedom Right [from Ghana to Canada]. Hopefully, we are going to get more slots to fly to Canada. So, for sure, we will connect the western part of Africa to Canada.”

Pending authorization

Fifth-freedom rights would permit the airline to carry passengers and cargo from Ethiopia to Ghana and then to Canada. To meet the high demand seen from East Africa, Ethiopian wants to increase capacity by operating flights via West Africa, where Ghana is located.

Additionally, the carrier is interested in expanding its frequencies from its hub at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) to YYZ and potentially adding more to its four times weekly service to YUL.

“If you are going to have more frequency, what I suggested to the authorities over there was also to operate via West Africa,” Gudeta explained. “The only thing I didn’t mention was which country in West Africa. That is not in our hands because we have to talk to the authorities and we have to get authorisation, but we are very keen to operate to Canada via West Africa.”

Current fifth-freedom routes

Ethiopian already has fifth-freedom rights to the US with flights to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

According to, the airline operates flights to IAD three times weekly via Lomé, Togo, and daily service via Dublin. To JFK, the carrier flies four times weekly via Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Flights to EWR also occur four times a week via Lomé. Service to ATL operates three times weekly via Dublin, while the airline has flights scheduled to ORD six times a week, also via Dublin.

Ethiopian Airlines A350-900 landing

Photo: Vidit Luthra/Shutterstock

Other long-haul fifth-freedom routes include daily flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina, via Sao Paul, Brazil. In Asia, the carrier operates service to Jakarta, Indonesia, and Hong Kong via Bangkok, Thailand. Flights to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are offered via Singapore.

Along with Ethiopian’s hope to expand its presence in Canada, the airline could show interest in possible flights to Hungary. According to Fana Broadcasting, Ethiopia and Hungary renewed their bilateral air service agreement in August. With flights to Hungary, the Latin American News Agency reported that Ethiopian could reach third countries in Europe and beyond with fifth-freedom rights.

Sources:, Fana Broadcasting Corporation, Latin American News Agency


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