Kenya Airways is soon going to fulfill its dream of expanding its international network to the United States. The airline has recently been granted approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) after it was issued a permit to launch flight operations from any part of Kenya to the U.S., thus significantly reducing the flight duration by half. It has however yet to clear two more regulatory hurdles prior to launching a maiden direct flight.
James Macharia, Transport Secretary of Kenya, has said that the final steps would be efficiently tackled and the company is confident about this. It may be noted that Keya Airways received DOT permit on September 5 this year. The airline hopes that it would be able to launch nonstop flights services to the United States in 2018 after clearing these hurdles.
Media reports said that Kenya Airways had been striving for more than a decade to launch direct flights to the U.S. When this is finally launched the flight duration will be only of 9 hours, instead of the current 19 hours. For traveling to the U.S. from Kenya, the travelers have to book flights via the Middle East, South Africa or Europe.
According to the reports, New York would be the first destination in the U.S. where Kenya Airways is planning to launch its maiden flight. It will later expand its network in the country and will fly to other airports as well. Kenya Airways, which is presently the leading carrier in East Africa, said that during the first year of its operation to the U.S. it plans to carry 60,000 passengers.
Vincent Coste, Commercial Director of Kenya Airways, said, “The airline’s present focus would be on New York because of its importance of point to point traffic with Nairobi. This might be our first destination, but we would be working on expanding our network further in the United States in the near future and exploring various options.” Presently, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines are the only airlines from South Africa and East Africa conducting flight operations to the U.S.