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Chicago Becomes Only American City Offering Nonstop Service to All Continents Except Antarctica

Chicago Becomes Only American City Offering Nonstop Service to All Continents Except Antarctica
Joe Cortez

Chicago, Illinois is joining an elite club of international cities that offer direct air service to every continent on the planet. With the launch of three Ethiopian Airlines flights, Chicago O’Hare International Airport will have at least one flight departing for the six major inhabited land masses on Earth by November 2018.

Chicago will have something in common with Doha, Dubai, London and Johannesburg by the end of the year: their airports offer direct air service to every continent. The Chicago Tribune reports Chicago O’Hare International Airport joined the elite club with the addition of an Ethiopian Airlines flight.

On Monday, June 11, the first of three weekly flights between Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) and ORD landed in Chicago, adding service direct to Africa. With the flights, the airport is only one destination short of becoming the Americas’ only airport to offer service to every inhabited land mass.

The final piece will officially start in November 2018, when Air New Zealand begins flying to ORD. That’s when the flag carrier will offer regularly scheduled service to and from Auckland Airport (AKL).

This important designation comes as Chicago pursues an ambitious upgrade and expansion plan for their largest international airport. In February 2018, the city sought an $8.5 billion package to create a “Global Terminal” and add more gates to the major air terminal. The plan was contested by both of ORD’s hub tenants, American Airlines and United Airlines, over alleged deals made with the competing airline. However, both agreed to the expansion plan when more common-use gates were added.

But the number of carriers isn’t the only thing expanding at ORD. According to statistics provided by the Chicago Department of Aviation to the Tribune, airport executives brought in 12.4 million new passengers from new international flights in the 12 months ending September 2017. During the 2018 Memorial Day travel period, an estimated 1.7 million passengers alone transited through ORD and Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), an increase of 2.3 percent from 2017.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (17)


  1. RandomNobody

    June 11, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Antarctica was demoted?

  2. Wingtipflyer1

    June 11, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Please call it Non-Stop.

  3. lamphs

    June 11, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Second that…the Chicago Tribune needs to fact check!

  4. Icecat

    June 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    New Zealand is not a continent.

  5. j2simpso

    June 11, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    Toronto (YYZ) also has that distinction as well with flights to CAI and ADD for Africa, LHR, FRA and CDG for Europe, NRT, ICN, PEK for Asia, a direct flight to SYD for Oceania and EZE for LATAM.

  6. BHammy

    June 11, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Standard marketing BS (bait and switch): “all continents” = “every inhabited land mass”

  7. Gigantor

    June 11, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    I also want to say that there are no flights to Antarctica.
    Maybe the author of this piece needs a geography lesson.

  8. Gigantor

    June 11, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    As far as I know, New Zealand is not part of the Australian continent.

  9. Bouncer


    June 11, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    That was my first thought. But no, it’s still a continent and this title/claim is innacurate.

  10. bigbuy

    June 12, 2018 at 1:16 am

    @RandomNobody,,,, you beat me to it.
    I set foot on Antarctica 3 different times and never saw a commercial airport of any kind.
    Perhaps the author should take a remedial course in geography!!!

  11. chrisboote

    June 12, 2018 at 5:34 am

    Istanbul has offered this for a while – and non-stop, not just direct

  12. strickerj

    June 12, 2018 at 10:22 am

    I’m surprised LAX hasn’t already achieved this – looks like Africa is the only continent it’s missing, and I would have thought there’d be a market to, say, Nigeria (or South Africa but that’s over 10,000 miles).

  13. adamblang

    June 12, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Flyertalk’s headline and summary is false.

    There are dozens of nonstop flights to Asia, dozens of nonstop flights to Oceania, dozens of nonstop flights to South America, dozens of nonstop flights to Europe, hundreds of nonstop flights within North America, and one direct (via Dublin) flight to Addis Ababa in Africa from LAX.

    There are dozens of nonstop flights to Asia, dozens of nonstop flights to South America, dozens of nonstop flights to Europe, hundreds of nonstop flights within North America, dozens of nonstop flights to Africa, and one direct flight to (via Los Angeles) flight to Brisbane in Oceania from JFK.

    The Tribune article says nonstop, though, which would rule out the LAX and JFK direct flights.

  14. GetSetJetSet

    June 13, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Do you ever write articles with text that matches the headline? “The final piece will officially start in November 2018…” means Chicago WILL become the only American city, etc…It hasn’t happened yet, as your headline indicates.

  15. mike2003242

    June 13, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    IAH advertises this, I believe its true

  16. flyerCO

    June 14, 2018 at 3:29 am

    IAH doesn’t serve Africa anymore If I remember.

  17. Freebird

    June 14, 2018 at 5:34 am

    Coincidentally, ORD wins my Worst US Airport For International Arrivals Award.

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