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Newfoundland-Ethiopia + Star Alliance + Aarghhh

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Wondering if anyone out there has any helpful suggestions.
I'm trying to book a flight, depart in March & return in April, from Gander, NL, Canada to Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Airlines flies Toronto-Addis leaving at 11:20, arriving next day. The return flight leaves Addis 22:30, arriving Toronto the next morning. The return is $1157 for days I'm interested in.
Air Canada flies Gander-Toronto, arriving 7:17. There are several options for Toronto-Gander, and return for that would be $636.
However, if I book these separately, and the NL-Toronto is delayed (very possible with March weather), I'm up the creek, right? Stuck in TO until the next day, and paying full fare for the flight to Addis?

But although Ethiopian is a Star Alliance carrier, according to its website, AC won't offer Ethiopian Airlines as an option if I try to book the whole Gander-Addis return through AC. Instead, they offer Lufthansa or Turkish airlines, route through Saudi Arabia (!), and take 37-42 hours.

If I try Kayak, the flights can be booked for a similar price, but only through flightnetwork.com. What I can't figure out, is whether I'll have any help if I get the delayed flight problem. The flightnetwork website says flights are non-refundable, but that's about all I can find.
Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, either don't offer the destinations or at $3000+.

Any info or suggestions would be appreciated.

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