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. 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.