Kenya eyes increased tourist flow from USA with launch of direct flights

This means there will now be direct flights between Kenya and the US.

On Thursday, KQ started selling tickets for the inaugural and later flights between Nairobi and NY price-tagged $869 (Sh87 000) for the early worms but said the prices would increase depending on demand.

"This is an exciting moment for us".

Henk Graaff, managing director of destination management company SW Africa, said the new flight is fantastic news for Kenya as well as for the entire East African region and the continent.

The national carrier said it expected the flights between Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and New York's JFK Airport to play a critical role in returning it profit making territory.

"This new flight is opening a new chapter in the history of Kenya Airways", Kenya Airways Group CEO Sebastian Mikosz said.

Najib Balala, Kenya's secretary of tourism, said the flight will position Kenya as the gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa for leisure and business travel.

Direct flights from JKIA to New York JFK will reduce the time flight from 25 hours to about 15 hours.

Kenya Airways, in a statement, touted the flight as the quickest way to get from East Africa to NY.

Two Boeing 787 Dreamliner's each with capacity of 234 passengers (30 premier world and 204 economy class) with a crew of four pilots and 12 attendants will ply the route. From New York, flights will depart at 12:25 pm to land in Nairobi at 10.55 am, the following day.

Flight time between Nairobi and NY will be reduced from over 22 hours to 15 hours.

Jim Holden, president of Holden Safaris, said, "Safaris in Kenya are very competitively priced, and now with direct flight connections, the destination offers an even more attractive safari package". Mikosz revealed the carrier will continue to modernise its fleet though its 32 aircraft are some of the youngest in Africa.

Kenya Airways celebrated 40 years of operations in January 2017 and was named Africa Leading Airline 2017 by the World Travel Awards.

  • Eleanor Harrison