I know the United States of America is quite “special” but forty-one years is such a long time for a country to be begging for a direct flight into your territory.
Maybe I’m the naive one here, but one thing I’m sure of, is that Kenya has been asking for permission from the US authorities to have its main air transport courier, Kenya Airways (KQ) fly directly into their country.
Finally it has happened. Beginning 28th October this year KQ will be starting direct flights from Nairobi to New York. And even now the booking for the inaugural flight has commenced. Charging $869 (ksh. 87000) for a return ticket.
The US government has granted Kenya Airways a permit to operate direct flights to America. This became effective as of September 5 according to an order issued by the department of transportation. POTUS was given 61 day window to disapprove the permit if he was not okay with it. I’m amazed Trump didn’t disallow it (maybe at the time he was too busy sending hate somewhere else and didn’t notice time passing).
But for this to eventually be a reality, it has taken my country 41 years. I know you are asking how I came about the years.
Kenya Airways was established in the year 1977. This was after the collapse of the East Africa Airways following the subsequent break up of the East Africa Union. Of course it was later re-established in the year 2000 and still exists up to date. And as you are aware, the dream of every country’s airline is to have the USA as one of its destination. Kenya is no exception, hence this has always been her dream.
But my problem is why it took this long. Was my country the one not doing enough — not pulling the right strings maybe — or too many hurdles put across by the US in the name of protecting their homeland from imminent danger!
Kenya, for every long time has been the USA’s topmost ally in the East and Central Africa. A very crucial trading partner.
Most American companies such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Rockefeller Foundation, Google, IBM, Intel, AIG, P&G, IMF, Wrigley, Cisco, Honeywell, just to name a few, have their headquarters here in Nairobi.
In 2016 the USA overtook the UK as our topmost tourists source and according to the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), almost 100,000 tourists visited from the USA between and October 2017.
What does this tell you? This statistics shows that there are so many people who have had to go through the inconvenience of taking indirect flights just to get to Kenya. Before it was roughly estimated that most indirect flights from Nairobi to New York took 20 hrs in the air each way. Stop overs in the Middle East and Europe, and sometimes this can stretch the journey to two days! Now I can see why some of you guys avoided coming to Kenya.
But now with this encouraging news, Kenya Airways will offer the fastest connects from Kenya and East Africa in general, to the USA. Flight time has been cut by over 6 hours. 15 hour westbound flight and another 14 hour eastbound flight that will be departing daily from JKIA — Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to JFK — John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
We’re excited, not just us by the way but our East African brothers — Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan — as well.
Finally no more excuses for Americans, especially the elderly on not visiting my country. Come and see what a beautiful people we are when not politicking over who to inherit the State House.
At the same time I think it’s high time the USA thought about reducing some of its demands for African airlines to be allowed to have direct flights into their country. We’re not that dangerous, are we?