*****UPDATE:  Ethiopian Airlines has not yet issued an official statement. But one thing is certain – the carrier will no longer carry Dublin-Los Angeles passengers after mid-December.”

It is also unclear whether or not the Addis Ababa-Los Angeles service will continue to route via Dublin. An alternative has emerged with Ethiopian Airlines considering the Nigerian city of Lagos.

A spokesperson told independent.ie that it wasn’t possible to give a definite response to the future of the Dublin stopover as “the route is under evaluation by HQ.”

As noted below Ethiopian Airlines’ updated schedules list a routing via Dublin. It is understood that a final decision on whether to route via Dublin or Lagos will be made in the next few days.”*****

Ethiopian Airlines was fortunate in 2015 when it secured fifth freedom rights for its Addis Ababa to Los Angeles service.

Its flight had to stop somewhere for refuelling. And what better place than Dublin – see our piece of 2015.

Why Dublin? Mainly because the Irish government agreed to award Ethiopian with traffic rights for the continuing sector from Dublin to Los Angeles.

Why were the Irish so generous? Because, at that time, no airline and least of all Ireland’s Aer Lingus was plying the Los Angeles route.

Back in 2014 the Irish government must have thought it was better to have this US link with Ethiopian rather than none at all.

Now it seems that Ethiopian will soon give up these fifth freedom rights.

According to Airlineroute, Ethiopian has changed its schedules and the Dublin-Los Angeles service cannot be booked after mid-December.

According to the carrier’s website Ethiopian’s final Dublin-Los Angeles flight will be on December 12.

You must be wondering why. I suspect it’s because Aer Lingus has now restarted Dublin-Los Angeles. And given the overcapacity on transatlantic routes the Irish government has indicated that competition from Ethiopian is no longer welcome.

Of course, under aviation agreements, any US carrier would automatically be able to enter this route. But so far none has indicated its willingness.

It must be stressed that fifth freedom rights are granted as a privilege. They are not a right and therefore can be withdrawn at any time.

Over the years hundreds of fifth freedom rights have had to be abandoned by global airlines.

Readers with good memories will remember that Pan Am’s famous RTW flights 1 and 2 would not have been possible without fifth freedom rights.

For the time being at least Ethiopian will continue to route Addis Ababa-Los Angeles via Dublin, but without picking up pasengers in Ireland.