President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday night presided over a historic milestone for Kenya’s aviation sector when he flagged off the inaugural Kenya Airways (KQ) direct flight from Nairobi to New York.
A jovial President Kenyatta led top Government officials and dignitaries in the short but highly significant ceremony to mark the start of a new journey for Kenya’s national carrier.
The President flagged off a KQ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner carrying 234 passengers from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport destined for New York’s JFK International Airport.
The long-haul flight will last 15 hours, reducing the journey by over 7 hours.
The inaugural flight to New York is a major milestone for Kenya’s aviation sector especially for the numerous economic opportunities in sectors such as tourism and trade.
A direct air link with the United States will give Kenya increased access to the large US economy, the biggest in the world, as well as the entire North American region.
The launch of the extra long haul flight is expected to attract more US corporations into the Kenyan market, to add to the more than 40 that have already set base in Nairobi as their Africa headquarters.
The direct flight will also increase tourist traffic to Kenya with the government projecting that it will bring in more corporate and high-end tourists.
President Kenyatta has been at the forefront in the sustained efforts that ensured direct flights between Kenya and the United States became a reality.
Over the years, President Kenyatta held talks on direct flights with top American government officials starting with his June 2014 visit to the US, when he attended the US-Africa Leader’s Summit, in September 2014 and September 2015.
This year, he visited the US twice and on both occasions, direct flights was top on the agenda. The first visit was when President Kenyatta met his US counterpart Donald Trump in August at the White House in Washington DC.