Reports in Kenya’s media today are publicising the news that Kenya Airways will start flying non-stop between Nairobi and New York later this year and that tickets go on sale on Thursday.
The US is an important market for Kenya, currently bringing in the most visitors and with huge potential as a source of tourism but increased growth in visitors from USA to Kenya has been hindered by distance and lack of a direct connection, as travellers have had to connect through Europe or the Middle East meaning travel time of 22 hours or longer on most airlines. The new service will cut the flight time by 7 hours and this is expected to boost visitor numbers significantly by making it easier for Americans to fly to Nairobi.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has also announced that a French company, Paris Aeroport, has won a contract for design of a new passenger terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. After recently upgrading Jomo Kenyatta International Aiprort and opening two new terminals, KAA is aiming to increase the airport’s capacity from the existing six million to 10.3 million passengers per year.
Extracts below from a report filed by Business reporter Mugambi Mutegi in the Nairobi News and Kenya’s Business Daily today, 10 January 2018:
Kenya Airways is set to commence daily flights between Nairobi and New York in October, marking a milestone for the national carrier that will cut the flight time between the two cities by more than seven hours. Travellers will from tomorrow begin booking advance tickets for the airline’s maiden flight to the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Kenya Airways has already secured a landing slot at JFK. The trans-Atlantic flights, scheduled to depart Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 10:30pm every day, will last 15 hours. This is a reduction from the current flight time of over 22 hours, including lengthy layovers.
“We are currently loading the flights onto our system. We shall go live and ready for bookings on Thursday,” said Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph in a telephone interview. “The launch of direct flights between Kenya and the United States will mark a significant milestone for the business and for the country.”
Passengers travelling to JFK will arrive at 6.30 a.m., in time for morning meetings, while the return flight from JFK will depart at 1.30 p.m. and arrive in Nairobi at 10.30 a.m. the next day. Each trip will have a maximum of 234 passengers — 204 in Economy and the rest in Business Class of the national carrier’s Dreamliner aircraft.
The government, KQ’s top shareholder, has recently stepped up its campaign for direct flights to America, with the Uhuru Kenyatta administration anticipating it will boost exports to the US and help the tourism sector. With about 100,000 tourists visiting Kenya every year for leisure and business, the US remains the top source of visitors into Kenya from the Americas, according to Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) data.
Imports from the US stood at Sh47.8 billion in 2016, mostly consisting of machinery and equipment while exports, mostly garments and apparels, stood at Sh43.4 billion.
JKIA’s longstanding second-class status forced passengers flying from Kenya to the US to transit through Europe, the Middle East or four African countries (South Africa, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, and Nigeria). Airlines plying the JKIA and JFK route include Turkish Airlines (through Istanbul), Qatar Airways (through Doha) and British Airways (through Heathrow), KLM (through Amsterdam) and Emirates (through Dubai).
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. As a result, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last February gave Kenya the Category One rating, paving the way for direct flights subject to other permits being received by the airport and KQ.
Mr Joseph now says the airline has secured all but two permits required for it to fly to the US, a position the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general, Gilbert Kibe, confirmed. “JFK is yet to be cleared as the last point of departure, a security-based permit to be issued by the US Transportation Security Administration,” said Mr Kibe.
“The other outstanding permit is the technical authority to operate from the FAA. I am confident that KQ will receive the two in time.”
Mr Joseph, who also exuded optimism about securing the twin clearances, said it was standard airline practice to put ticket up for sale at the closing preparatory stages of entering a new market.
on Wednesday 10th January 2018 at 10:29