Increased air access between the United States and Africa has positioned Africa as an attractive MICE option for the US market, and especially for Chicago-based MICE organizers.  

On 02 June, Ethiopian Airlines launched nonstop flights between O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia, marking the first direct flight between Chicago and Africa.

“With the addition of this route, Chicago has become the only U.S. city with an airport that offers nonstop flights to every major continent. For Chicago-based companies, this means they can now start considering Africa for their MICE trips,” says Henk Graaff, MD, SW Africa, which offers tailor-made, corporate and leisure travel, meetings and incentive travel solutions throughout Southern Africa.

The new service will be operated on one of the Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners on the following schedule:

  • ET510 Addis Ababa (ADD) 10:15pm Departure ⇒ Dublin (DUB) 4:25am (+1) Arrival
  • ET510 Dublin (DUB) 5:25am Departure ⇒ Chicago (ORD) 7:55am Arrival
  • ET511 Chicago (ORD) 9:55am Departure ⇒ Addis Ababa (ADD) 7:40 (+1) Arrival

There is only a stop in Dublin on the westbound leg from ADD to IAD. The eastbound leg from IAD to ADD is nonstop.

“Ethiopian Airways is the fastest growing airline in Africa and has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success, with flights between Washington DC, Los Angeles and New York,” explains Graaff.

“Onward travel from Addis Ababa to major cities in Southern Africa is efficient. In this region, the infrastructure supports MICE travel, and life-changing travel experiences abound for delegates, from the glistening beaches in Mozambique to the game-rich Okavango Delta in Botswana, and the Kruger National Park in South Africa.”

Graaff lists his top two destinations that await delegates in Southern Africa:

#1 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Mice trips

Flight time from Addis Ababa: 4 hours 40 minutes

Incentive highlight: Helicopter Flip over the Falls

Best time to visit: May to October, during winter, and between April and May at the end of the summer rainy season when the Falls are in full flood and the view is most dramatic

Add Zimbabwe to your MICE itinerary for some exciting team building opportunities in Victoria Falls. While witnessing the majesty of the “smoke that thunders”, delegates can bungee jump, zip line, white river raft, canoe and game drive their way around this activity hub. This is an African adventure at its best, with all the necessary safety regulations, conferencing facilities and the infrastructure to boot.

Perfect as a tailormade combo with:

#2 The Kruger National Park, South Africa


Flight time from Addis Ababa: 5 hours 25 minutes

Incentive highlight: Crisp sundowners served on afternoon game drives in search of the Big 5.

Best time to visit: The Kruger is an all-year-long destination, but the best time for animal viewing is during the dry season from May to September.

In a private concession in the Kruger, get your team on a conservation safari with the Elephant Collaring Project. This project allows guests to proactively get involved by helping to fit selected elephants with GPS-enabled satellite collars to identify habitual crop raiders and assist in combating human-wildlife conflict. They’ll love the value adds of sleep-outs under the stars, bush walks, surprise morning bush breakfasts, sophisticated safari dining and tailor-made menus with catering services.

Perfect as a tailormade combo with: