Kenya Airways taking off

Kenya Airways set for daily flights to United States in October

Kenya Airways is set to launch daily flights between Nairobi and New York in October this year, the first-ever flights that will mark a milestone development in travel and tourism in East Africa through air connection between Kenya and the United States.

The Kenyan national flag carrier moves closer to launch the first-ever direct connection between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and the JF Kennedy International Airport in New York after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave Kenya the Category One rating in February 2017, paving the way for direct flights subject to other permits being received by the airport and Kenya Airways.

Kenya’s Business Daily had reported Wednesday that the airline has already secured a landing slot at JFK in New York, marking a milestone for the Kenyan national carrier that will cut the flight time between the two cities by more than seven hours.

Travelers will from this week, begin booking advance tickets for the airline’s maiden flight to the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), the Business Daily had reported.

The trans-Atlantic flights, scheduled to depart Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 10:30pm every day, will last 15 hours, making a reduction from the current flight time of over 22 hours, including lengthy layovers mostly in Europe and the Middle East.

“We are currently loading the flights onto our system. We shall go live and ready for bookings on Thursday,” Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph told the Business Daily.

“The launch of direct flights between Kenya and the United States will mark a significant milestone for the business and for Kenya,” the paper quoted the Airline’s chairman saying.

Passengers travelling to JFK will arrive at 6.30 in time for morning meetings, while the return flight from JKF will depart at 1.30 afternoon and arrive in Nairobi at 10.30 a.m. the next day.

Each trip will have a maximum of 234 passengers, 204 in Economy Class and the rest in Business Class of the airline’s Dreamliner aircraft.

The Kenyan government has recently stepped up its campaign to launch direct flights to America through a boost of exports to the US, also campaigns to market tourism in the US travel market.

With about 100,000 American tourists visiting Kenya every year for leisure and business, the US remains the top source of visitors into Kenya.

Imports from the US stood at Ksh47.8 billion ($463.1 million) in 2016, mostly consisting of machinery and equipment while exports, mostly garments and apparels, stood at Ksh43.4 billion ($420 million).

Kenya has recently implemented a raft of recommendations by the US government to enhance security, among them separation of passenger arrival and departure terminals, clearing the flight path and fencing off the airport.

Kenya Airways entry into the US skies will mark a milestone development to the East African tourist portfolio with expectations to attract more American tourists to the region, best known by rich wildlife resources.

Lacking direct connection to the US cities, East African countries depend airlines outside the region to link their airports to US destinations.

Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways (SAA) are the only carriers from Eastern and Southern African region flying to the US, while most tourists and business visitors plying the route depends mostly the Middle East and European registered airlines.

Except Kenya Airways which still plying the regional and international flights to Europe and Asia, the rest airlines in East Africa are flying domestic routes due to lack of aircraft, hostile politics, poor business and lack of funding from respective governments.

Tanzania is among a regional member state lacking vibrant airline for regional and international flights. Nairobi remains the most reliable hub for tourists visiting the East African region through air connections.

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