Direct flights to the US beckon as JKIA attains category one status

After an eight year wait, Kenyans can now fly directly to the United States after the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport attained category 1 status.

This after the Federal Aviation Administration gave the all clear after conducting a series on security audit tests on the airport.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority have been stepping up efforts to get the airport certified.

In September last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act creating new aviation laws as part of the requirements by the International Civil Aviation Organization standards on safety.

One key area was the separation of arriving and departing passengers as well as proper fencing of the airport.

Since the 2013 fire that gutted part of JKIA, KAA and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure have invested heavily in modernizing the airport.

For instance the government invested S1.3 billion in security equipment used at JKIA.

The Kenyan government has long desired to have direct flights to the US in an effort of boosting trade ties between the two countries.

Data from the US Department of Trade shows that the US exported goods worth S96.9 billion to Kenya and imported goods worth Sh58 billion in 2015.

In 2009, the government had licensed US carrier Delta Airlines to operate direct flights to Kenya but that was turned down over security concerns.

Previously passengers headed to the US had to board planes to either Europe or the Middle East before connecting to the US.

The move is seen as a major boost for Kenya Airways which could open up a direct route to the US.

Kenya Airways and Delta Airlines are in the same Sky Team alliance that could see the two airlines enter into a code share agreement allowing the two airlines to sell direct tickets on each other’s planes.

More to follow…..