Since the beginning of this week, Star Alliance member Ethiopian Airlines has been operating a non-stop connection between Vienna and Copenhagen. The African carrier uses long-haul aircraft of the Boeing 787 type.
So far, a low-cost carrier and a legacy carrier with low-cost airline service have shared the affected route. Thus, machines of the A320 series and Boeing 737 dominated between Vienna and the Danish capital. Passengers can now also fly with a widebody, as Ethiopian Airlines has been flying between the two cities four times a week since Monday, May 22, 2023.
“The expansion of Ethiopian Airlines in Vienna demonstrates trust in the performance of our airport as an international hub. Nine years after adding the Addis Ababa route, Ethiopia's flag carrier now also serves a connection to Copenhagen in addition to Brussels. This increases the range of comfortable flight connections in Vienna. Copenhagen is a great city for sightseeing and weekend trips. We are very happy about the new route in Vienna and the even closer cooperation with Ethiopian Airlines,” says Julian Jäger, CEO of Flughafen Wien AG.
The flight connection is operated every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Ethiopian Airlines always takes off in the morning at around 7:00 a.m. for Copenhagen and lands back in Vienna at around 21:00 p.m. on the same day. The flight time between Vienna and Copenhagen is less than two hours. Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and a popular tourist destination. Probably the best-known national symbol of the city: the little mermaid on the Langelinie promenade, which finds its model in the fairy tale of the same name by the Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen.
Fifth freedom makes the flights possible
These are fifth freedom flights. Flights within the European Union are actually reserved for EU carriers. Due to international agreements, which were already concluded in the "stone age of aviation" when many stopovers were still common, airlines are allowed to let passengers board and disembark during stopovers, provided that it is an international onward flight and the flight number remains the same.
This is exactly the case with Ethiopian Airlines, because early in the morning the Boeing 787-8 arrives from Addis Ababa, makes a stopover for boarding and disembarking in Vienna and then continues on to Copenhagen. In the evening it goes back to the capital of Ethiopia – also with a stopover in Vienna. The carrier can therefore offer the simple end of the day on four days of the week, which could be of particular interest to business travellers. Incidentally, another route that Ethiopian Airlines offers with long-haul equipment from Vienna as part of the Fifth Freedom is Brussels.
“We are very pleased to open Copenhagen at Vienna Airport, which offers a dense network of European destinations as well as long-haul flights to many destinations and to Africa. With the addition of this flight, Copenhagen will become an important gateway for Ethiopian Airlines in northern Europe and southern Scandinavia. Thanks to Ethiopian Airlines' extensive route network in Africa, the new flight will improve air connections between Europe and Africa, thereby boosting trade, tourism and diplomatic relations between the two continents. With Copenhagen we now serve 21 destinations in Europe,” explains Lemma Yadecha Gudeta, CCO of Ethiopian Airlines.
While competitor Ryanair generally does not offer business class, Austrian Airlines' Euro Business Class product cannot compete with Ethiopian Airlines' long-haul C. The AUA does not offer any special seats, but only leaves the middle seat free. The Ethiopian Star Alliance partner has real business class seats that can also be folded flat into a bed. You can also trump with an on-board entertainment system, which is also available in every seat in economy class. When it comes to WiFi, on the other hand, Ethiopian Airlines asks you to dig deep into your pocket, because it is very expensive. The competition, if available at all, also offers this at “pharmacy prices”.
Snacks and drinks included
Another difference to Austrian Airlines and Ryanair can be seen in the area of on-board service, because snacks and drinks of your choice are included in both travel classes. You have to pay extra for this with the competition, although catering is also included in AUA's business class.
However, passengers who want to fly to Brussels and/or Copenhagen with Ethiopian Airlines have to consider a special feature of the fifth freedom. Although it is a flight within the Schengen region, the handling takes place in non-Schengen areas. This means that passport controls are carried out by the respective border police at both the point of departure and the point of destination. This is common practice on Fifth Freedom flights.
“Both our business travelers and tourists benefit from the diverse connections and optimally coordinated flight schedules of the Ethiopian Airlines Group. You can fly direct from Vienna six times a week to our extensive network of 63 destinations in Africa. In addition, we offer even more accessibility and comfort to passengers flying directly from Vienna to Copenhagen in Scandinavia. On board, we offer our passengers two 23 kg baggage allowances, a delicious meal and the warm Ethiopian hospitality. Vienna Airport serves as a strategic hub connecting Africa with Eastern Europe and now also with Scandinavia. We appreciate Vienna Airport's crucial role in facilitating this endeavor,” said Saba G. Kassaye, Ethiopian Airlines General Manager for Austria and Eastern Europe.