Kenyan airliners are expected to start making direct flights to the United States, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued Kenya with a certificate of security and safety clearance Thursday.
The clearance follows a successful audit of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the largest airport in Kenya, by the International Civil Aviation Organization to determine if it meets the necessary international standards.
The announcement was made by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, James Macharia, who called on Kenya Airways, Kenya’s national carrier, to “immediately apply for approval to codeshare with U.S. airlines while concurrently pursuing approval for direct flights.”
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Welcoming the safety clearance, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Treasury, Henry Rotich, said direct flights between Kenya and the United States will have a favorable impact on Kenya’s tourism and business sectors.
“We have in the past used various airlines to deliver our goods to the U.S. market, but with the non-stop flights, this will change,” Rotich said.
Healthy Bilateral Relations
The Kenyan government has welcomed the security approval by the United States, saying it is a result of sustained cooperation between the two countries in many areas, such as security, exports, imports, and tourism.
“We expect more direct investments from the U.S. government, companies, and most importantly, Kenyans in Diaspora,” Kenya’s Vision 2030 director-general, Julius Muia, said.
For its part, Kenya Airways has welcomed the security clearance, saying it is ready to “immediately” start flying passengers directly to the United States.
The airline’s outgoing CEO Mbuvi Ngunze said their priority is to pursue codeshare arrangements with their partners in the Skyteam Alliance to make sure they begin direct flights to the United States as soon as possible.
“This will enable us to sell tickets to and from any U.S. state and drive revenues directly to us,” Ngunze said.
This announcement comes at a time when Kenya, a longtime ally of the United States, is uncertain about its future relations with the world’s most powerful nation under President Donald Trump’s administration.
Once the request to codeshare is approved, Kenya will join the small league of African countries, including South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, and Cape Verde, which enjoy direct flights to the United States.