East Africa-based Ethiopian Airlines operates nonstop flights from the USA east coast on westbound flights returning to Addis Ababa.
Kenya has in the a year ago been in the process of acquiring the requisite approvals from the US Transport Security Administration for the direct flights and the national carrier admits it will be a logistic intensive exercise.
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Operating a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with a capacity of 234 passengers, Kenya Airways will depart Nairobi at 11:25 p.m. and arrive the next day in NY at 6:25 a.m. Direct flights are expected to boost the numbers, with the travel time reducing from about 25 hours to about 15 hours. The return flight will leave NY at 12:25 p.m. and arrive in Nairobi the next day at 10:55 a.m.
"This is an exciting moment for us", Sebastian Mikosz, CEO and managing director of Kenya Airways Group said in a statement. From New-York it will depart at 12:25 landing at JKIA at 10:55 the following day. Though the flight will take upwards of 15 hours, in some cases, it will afford passengers much more time at their origin and/or destination.
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The airline is counting on the tourism, with the United States being a key source market of vacationers, as well as opportunities to Kenyan businesses accorded by the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) to sustain the flights. What was pending was approval of the Air Service Licence and Air Operation Licence from the USA authorities which has been granted.
This convenient schedule will allow connections to and from over 40 African destinations through Kenya Airways hub in Nairobi. It is the largest tourist source market, and in the period to October 2017 accounted for close to 100 000 tourists to Kenya.
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Kenya Airways was is 2017 named Africa's Leading Airline of the year at the World Travel Awards gala ceremony held in Kigali, Rwanda. "Our guests are at the heart of everything we do at the airline and these two awards confirm our undeterred commitment to them". Mikosz revealed the carrier will continue to modernise its fleet though its 32 aircraft are some of the youngest in Africa.