History was made on Sunday October 28, 2018 as Kenya’s maiden direct flight to the United States took off, a culmination of numerous attempts by the Kenyan government to secure the last point of departure clearance from the U.S.A.
The 15 hour flight took off on Sunday October 28 at around 10.45 pm and arrived at the John F Kennedy (JFK) airport in New York on Monday October 29 at 6.55 am with 234 passengers aboard the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Wednesday, 1.00 pm is when the return flight leaves New York and is expected to land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Thursday at 10.30 am.
The price of a ticket for the economy class is Ksh90, 000 while that of the business class is Ksh Ksh260, 000.
Experts say that the direct flights will be a boon for Kenya’s economy with more tourists and businessmen expected to visit the country with the direct flights expected to cut down on travel time by five to six hours from the previous 18-21 hours.
The road to the direct flights has been full of hoops for The Ministry of Transport and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Kenya’s first bid to operate the flights being traced to the year 2007.
Kenya was granted the clearance to have the direct flights in 2007 with the first direct flight slated for June 2009.
The flight however did not materialize as the American government cancelled the inaugural flight over the rising t****r threat in the country at the time.
In 2013, Kenya re-applied for the direct flights, attempts which were re-buffed as the JKIA had not yet met the required standards to be granted clearance.
Sticking issues included lack of separate terminals for arrivals and departures and close proximity of houses to flight paths.
The government went back to the drawing board and drafted the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Act 2013 which addressed air transport and safety.
Following Kenya’s adherence to the required standards, talks began between President Uhuru Kenyatta and US President Barrack Obama and were later carried on by incumbent US president D**********p.
Kenya finally secured the green light to operate the direct flights in September 2017