Kenya Airways Completes Historic Inaugural Round-Trip from Nairobi to New York City
Gentlemen, our millennial generation can for the first time leave Kenyan soil, and land on US soil, uninterrupted, thanks to Kenya Airways’ inaugural non-stop, ultra-long haul direct flight from the JKIA in Nairobi, to the JFK in New York City.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft christened “Magical Kenya”, which left Nairobi’s premier international airport on the night of 28th October 2018, touched down back at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 9.07 a.m. – nearly an hour and a half ahead of schedule, yesterday, warmingly welcomed by the Deputy President. William Samoei Ruto.
The flight, which departed New York at 8.00pm Kenyan time, took a much shorter flight duration of 12 hours to Nairobi – down from an earlier estimated 14 hours. This is a significant decrease in flight time, considering the previous shortest duration was either an EgyptAir route, through Cairo, or an Air France route, through Paris, for 18 hours 5 mins and 18 hours 40 mins respectively.
The flight, which covers just over 11,800km, with 234 passengers on board, has now made history by being the first direct, non-stop flight from East Africa to the United States of America (USA).
Deputy President Ruto 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 hub 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.”, said 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, following a previous Homeland Security denial in 2009, when Delta Airlines wanted to connect Atlanta, Georgia to Nairobi. 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.
Only in August this year, Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was finally approved to be a Last Point of Departure (LPD) to the United States. The first recorded time that the East African region was connected, albeit indirectly, by air to North America, was from 1965 to 1987, when the now defunct Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) operated a route that ran from New York to the Kenyan capital, through Dakar (Senegal)/Monrovia (Liberia), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Lagos (Nigeria) and Kinshasa (DRC). The flight time was 21 hours.
Commenting on the significance of the national carrier’s direct flight to the US, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Betty Radier has said, “With the introduction of KQ’s direct flight to the US, KTB expects the number of tourist arrivals from the US to grow significantly.”
Among the products that KTB is pushing in the US market include Wildlife Safari, Culture and Heritage, Adventure, and Special Occasions.