TD helps with Africa-Ireland flights link-up
THE first regular flights between Ireland and Africa are beginning this summer as Ethiopian Airlines has chosen Dublin for stop-overs en route to the US.
A 787 Dreamliner aircraft arrived yesterday to mark the start of the three-times weekly service in the summer.
And it came about, in part, when Dublin TD Joe Costello was inspired by flower bulbs.
Former trade minister Mr Costello (right) was tasked with created trade hubs in Africa and an air-link was part of the plan.
"I became aware of the fact that Ethiopian Airlines was flying into Europe and they were carrying in cargoes of flower bulbs to Northern Europe, into France, Belgium and The Netherlands and they were refuelling in Rome," the Labour TD told the Herald.
That sparked an idea that the airline could refuel in Ireland on US routes.
A meeting between Irish authorities and airline chiefs took place in the Druids Glen Resort, Co Wicklow in 2013 to discuss the idea.
"We discussed the possibility of cheap Irish fuel, cheaper than Rome, and how we could provide refrigerated cargo, like seafood, to bring back on the return trip to Ethiopia to trade," Mr Costello said.
A deal was signed last November, and the first plane from Africa's largest airline arrived in Dublin Airport yesterday.
The flights between Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and Los Angeles, via Dublin, begin on June 20.