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Kenya Airways makes maiden direct flight to the US

Storyline:Business, National News

NAIROBI: Kenya Airways (KQ) took to the sky last night on its maiden flight direct to New York marking a historic feat for the East African country which has for close to a decade been fighting to secure clearance by US aviation authorities.

President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner carrying the first 234 passengers destined for the JF Kennedy International Airport.

Kenyatta said the direct flights will open up business between the two countries and increase opportunities for both businessmen and leisure travelers.

“These flights are set to provide a seamless experience for business and leisure travelers alike. It will allow the world to taste Kenya’s diverse cultures and hospitality,” Kenyatta said.

With the new flights, travelers can now dispense with the long detours through Europe and Middle East which took up to 22 hours. Direct flights from Nairobi to New York will now take 15 hours.

The Dreamliner will which gobble up 85,000 litres of fuel is expected to touch down at JF Kennedy International Airport at 1325hrs local time. Economy class costs $890 return while business class travelers will have to part with $2600.

Kenya applied for clearance by the US Federal Aviation Administration for clearance in 2013 but was rejected. But the aviation body ultimately granted Kenya category 1 ranking February 2017 paving way for the much anticipated flights.

Photo: PSCU

Kenya now joins eight other African countries namely Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Cape Verde which have direct access to US airports from their respective nations.

The entry of Kenya is further likely to excite the aviation industry in the East and Horn of Africa region with KQ and Ethiopian Airlines fighting for the regional markets. Both airlines have also expressed interests in Somalia with Ethiopian Airlines expected to resume flights to Mogadishu this Friday ending a near 40 year hiatus.