Air expansion is off to flying start

The decision by Ethiopian Airlines to launch a service connecting Dublin with Adis Ababa and Los Angeles emphasises why free trade between small and large economies is so key.

Air expansion is off to flying start

Central to this new air service announcement is the Boeing 787. The so-called Dreamliner is part of a new-generation twin-jet wide-bodied aircraft that brings an entirely new set of economics to flying. Because of its super-efficiency, driven largely by new engines designed by General Electric, the 787 operated by Ethiopian is able to fly what are called long, thin routes.

These are routes over which passenger numbers are not high enough to warrant flights using traditional aircraft, with their relatively high fuel consumption. The 787, with enhanced range and significantly lower fuel costs, can operate these routes at a profit, however.

The other key attraction for Ethiopian is the ability to use pre-customs clearance at Dublin Airport to deliver passengers directly off their flights and through the airport in Los Angeles.

The 787, and other new aircraft being introduced by Airbus including the A350, open up potential routes that will interest Ireland. Before these aircraft arrived, it aws always accepted that travel to smaller long-haul destinations necessitated using a large airport such as Heathrow. With airplanes such as the 787, this dynamic changes.

How long before Dublin, Shannon, or Cork could be connected to far-flung destinations east, west, north, and south of Ireland?

The Ethiopian launch would not be possible without a liberal travel agreement between Ireland and Ethiopia and the US. Increasingly, liberalised air travel arrangements are being signed across the world. These not only open up new economic markets to support and promote employment, they also promote cultural understanding in a world where tolerance is increasingly in short supply.

Joe Gill is director of Corporate Broking with Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal.

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