Kenya Airways celebrates inaugural U.S. flight

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Kenya Airways' first New York flight arives at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport.
Kenya Airways' first New York flight arives at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill

NAIROBI -- Kenya Airways has launched the first nonstop flight from Nairobi to New York, a 14-hour flight on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. 

Airline chairman Michael Joseph, who said the route was five years in the making, said it was already performing "better than expected," and that the flight would be mostly full in December and January. The 234-passenger plane has 30-lie flat seats in business class. 

For the safari set, the route saves a time-consuming connection through a European city. An additional boon for travelers: They can connect with domestic flights at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to hot spots like the Masa Marai. Passengers can also connect to more than 40 African destinations through Nairobi.

The flight from New York Kennedy departs daily at 12 p.m. and lands in Nairobi at 10:30 a.m. the following day. The Nairobi flight leaves at 11:25 p.m. and arrives in New York at 6:25 a.m. the following day. 

The business class on Kenya Airways' Boeing 787.
The business class on Kenya Airways' Boeing 787. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill

Speaking at Jomo Kenyatta Airport after the plane landed here on Oct. 30 on its first flight from New York, Kenya deputy president William Ruto called the route a "game changer."

"It repositions Kenya as a more accessible destination for the U.S. market," he said.

According to Kenya Airways, traffic between the U.S. and Kenya has grown 20% over the last two years, enabling the U.S. to overtake the U.K. as Kenya's top source market. 

The airline was only able to launch the flight after Jomo Kenyatta Airport went through a long process to achieve Category 1 status for safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a requirement for direct flights to the U.S. 

Joseph said the airline's next planned direct routes to Nairobi from the US would be from Atlanta and Washington.

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