Kenya-US direct flights to begin in November – Transport CS
The state had granted a licence to Delta Airlines of the US for direct flights from Atlanta in 2009, but the airline was denied permission by the US government
The government is keen on having direct flights between Kenya and the United States take off in November after meeting all the conditions set by the US.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said from 149 issues that American aviation authorities raised, mainly over security and safety, “the last issue was ironed out this week”.
“Now it is for real,” Macharia said in an interview with the Star on Thursday.
Two weeks ago, officials from the US Federal Aviation Administration inspected the facilities at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and confirmed to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority that all was well, he said.
The International Civil Aviation Authority will conduct an audit of the facilities to give the final greenlight.
The KCAA has projected a mid-October date for the final audit, director general Gilbert Kibe confirmed earlier this week.
“The US has even requested us to ask airlines interested in flying directly from Kenya to apply for the necessary permissions,” the CS said.
The issue of directs flights between the two countries has been on and off for close to five years.
Kenya scored 88 per cent in a se- curity audit by the ICAO conducted between September 17 and 24, 2015, above the minimum 80 per cent required mark.
This was after failing in previous audits where ICAO gave JKIA 78.42 per cent February last year, up from 66 per cent in 2013.
Kenya had granted a licence to Delta Airlines of the US for direct flights from Atlanta in 2009, but the airline was refused permission by the US government, citing security concerns.
Kenya Airways is interested in launching long-haul flights to the US.
The direct flights are expected to enhance Nairobi’s status as a transport hub, promote tourism and increase trade between the two countries.
Other African countries that have direct flights to the US are South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Cape Verde, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Direct flights will be a shot in the arm for the recovering tourism industry.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia before the Parliament Transport Committee on May 24