Kenya Airways has formally requested the US federal aviation department for a license to operate direct flights to the US. If given the Flights from Nairobi to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport will be launched in early May.
To be awarded, Kenya Airways aircraft and its crew will be rated and reviewed before the license is issued.
“Getting Category One status was a milestone for Kenya since in Africa only South Africa, Senegal, Cape Verde and Ethiopia enjoy that status. Our inclusion means more business for airlines using the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as a hub,” he said.
CS Macharia said the flights would give Nairobi increased human and cargo traffic, fresh cut flowers and clothes for export from Kenya.
The Cabinet secretary said more people from African countries heading to the US or coming home would prefer using Nairobi which will shorten the Kenya-US journey from 19 hours via Amsterdam to nine hours. airlines running through Nairobi will enjoy increased an increase in traffic.
Last year, the US emerged as Kenya’s top source market after overtaking the United Kingdom which for years has been the country’s leading market.
Arrivals from the US rose to 97,883 last year up from 84,759 in 2015 while the UK market had 96,404 arrivals down from 98,523 in 2015.
Jomo Kenyatta Airport’s license as a last point of departure means that foreign airlines can apply to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority for permits to fly into Kenya directly.
“Kenya invested billions of shillings in improving infrastructure at Jomo Kenyatta airport from runways and perimeter wall. The departure and arrival terminals were also separated and modern security equipment installed,” said CS Macharia.
America’s Delta Airlines would enjoy an automatic renewal of its licenses since they had been granted approval for direct flights in 2009. The license was rescinded citing security issues in Kenya.