KENYA AIRWAYS’ INAUGURAL NON-STOP FLIGHT FROM NEW YORK CITY LANDS IN NAIROBI
(Posted 30th October 2018)
Kenya Airways’ inaugural non-stop flight from New York City to Nairobi was welcomed at the international airport by Kenya’s Deputy President William Samoei Ruto.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft christened “Magical Kenya” touched down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 9.07 a.m. earlier today – nearly an hour and a half ahead of schedule.
The flight had departed New York City at 8pm Kenyan time onto a much shorter flight than initially calculated that took approximately 12 hours to Nairobi – down from earlier estimated flight duration of 14 hours from New York City to Nairobi.
The return flight from New York, which had 234 passengers on board, has made history by being the first non-stop flight from East Africa to the United States of America (USA). In the 1970’s and into the 1980’s did Pan Am at the time also operate direct flights from Nairobi to New York but with a stopover enroute in West Africa.
Making his keynote address soon after welcoming the maiden flight, Deputy President William Ruto hailed the flight as an historic milestone for tourism, trade and investment between Kenya and the USA when he said: “Kenya Airways’ direct flight to the U.S. is an important milestone for Kenya as tourism destination considering that the U.S. is currently Kenya’s leading tourism source market with a market share of 12% of arrivals to Kenya. The direct flight will save travelers at least 7 hours of flying time, and thus provide a shorter, quicker and more affordable connection for tourists and business travelers coming to Kenya. This will substantially boost Kenya’s global profile as a tourism destination.”
The Deputy President further noted that the flight has elevated Kenya and more specifically Nairobi’s profile as a destination that is capable of receiving visitors from all over the world.
“Kenya’s safari experience is one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife experiences and has put Kenya both on the global map and on many American travelers’ bucket lists. As more North Americans look to Africa as their next big vacation destination, Kenya now has an opportunity to expand further into the United States’ market and capture market share away from other destinations in Africa” concluded Deputy President Ruto.
The Deputy President also called upon the Kenya Airport Authority to improve the customer experience for travelers coming to Kenya, saying the government will continue is investment in modernizing and expanding JKIA’s capacity.
Kenya’s journey towards direct flights to the U.S. begun in earnest in April 2017 when Kenya was granted Category 1 status. Kenya Airways subsequently received approvals by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that certified its systems and procedures as safe to conduct direct flights to the U.S.
In August this year, Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was finally approved to be a Last Point of Departure (LPD) to the U.S.
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest and most profitable airline, has been operating from their hub airport in Addis Ababa to the United States for many years, serving several destinations in the US including Washington DC and Los Angeles.
Other airlines flying from Africa to the US are Egypt Air, Royal Air Maroc and South African Airways.
RwandAir has also announced plans to commence flights to the US in 2019 and audits by US authorities of aviation facilities in Kigali are scheduled as the Rwandan applications are being processed.