To the delight of travel pros, Kenya Airways launching New York service

Kenya Airways 787
Photo Credit: Nieuwland Photography/Shutterstock

Kenya Airways will launch nonstop daily service between Nairobi and New York JFK on Oct. 28.

Operating a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with a capacity of 234 passengers, Kenya Airways will depart Nairobi at 11:25 p.m. and arrive the next day in New York at 6:25 a.m. The return flight will leave New York at 12:25 p.m. and arrive in Nairobi the next day at 10:55 a.m.

The flight duration is 15 hours eastbound and 14 hours westbound.

"This new flight is opening a new chapter in the history of Kenya Airways," Kenya Airways Group CEO Sebastian Mikosz said. "It will be possible to have dinner in Nairobi and breakfast in New York."

Najib Balala, Kenya's secretary of tourism, said the flight will position Kenya as the gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa for leisure and business travel. He said the U.S. is already Kenya's top source market with over 100,000 arrivals per year, and that number is expected to increase.

Tour operators say that the flight marks a milestone for the entire region and is expected to considerably boost travel from the U.S.

Devan Jobanputra, director of Travel 'n Style in Kenya, says the direct flight will undoubtedly increase awareness and is likely to boost premium travel to the country.

Henk Graaff, managing director of destination management company SW Africa, said the new flight is fantastic news for Kenya as well as for the entire East African region and the continent. He said it will open up new packaging opportunities for tour operators.

"It will become a lot easier for tour operators to consider East Africa in combination with Southern Africa, for example," he said.

Jim Holden, president of Holden Safaris, said, "Safaris in Kenya are very competitively priced, and now with direct flight connections, the destination offers an even more attractive safari package."

Prior to the announcement of the new flight, Kenya and Kenya Airways went through stringent assessments before achieving Category 1 status for safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a requirement for direct flights to the U.S.

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