Nairobi — Kenya Airways has launched direct flights between Nairobi and Abuja in Nigeria, paving way for closer ties between the two countries.
KQ will be flying four times a week between its hub at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
The launch comes on the heels of the recent State visit to Nigeria by President Uhuru Kenyatta as the two countries seek to deepen cooperation.
The direct flights to Abuja will be operated on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays every week. On each of these days, Kenya Airways' flight KQ536 will depart from JKIA at 0750 hours to arrive in Abuja at 1035 hours local time.
The return flight KQ 537 will depart Abuja at 1135 hours, to land in Nairobi at 1820 hours local time.
Speaking during the launch of the direct flights to Abuja, Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau reiterated the significance of the move in boosting the bilateral ties by increasing the level of interaction between Kenya and Nigeria.
"Enhancement of intra-African trade is one of the key objectives of our government and transport is a key element to the success of this goal. President Uhuru Kenyatta, together with the rest of the government, is determined to ensure that relationship between African countries is strengthened," Kamau said.
Abuja becomes the second Nigerian city that Kenya Airways flies into. KQ has been operating 10 flights to Lagos, seven of them directly.
The introduction of the flights to Abuja follows a review of the Bilateral Service Agreements by the Kenyan and Nigerian governments in 2013.
"This is our contribution towards efforts to boost intra-Africa trade that currently stands at less than 12 percent. This is also a great opportunity to shore up intra Africa tourism," Kenya Airways' Group CEO Titus Naikuni said.
Abuja is the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria and home to most of the country's institutions, including the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
It is also the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the regional headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).