Kenya: We Have the 'Muscles' to Operate Non-Stop to the US, KQ Assures Market

Nairobi — Kenya Airways has affirmed its technical capacity to maintain operations on its new Nairobi-New York route set to commence next month.

CEO Sebastian Mikosz said the airline's Dreamliners will serve well on the route where Kenya Airways will be operating daily flights between the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the John F. Kennedy International Airport, the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America.

According to Mikosz, KQ as it is known by its international code, will deploy its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircrafts for the 15-hour flights.

The aircrafts with General Electric GEnx (General Electric Next-generation) engines are suitable for long range performance; hence the airline is comfortable it will deliver on the route.

The airplane's unparalleled fuel efficiency and range flexibility allows an airline to optimize fleet and network performance, hence a good choice for KQ to operate on the route which is about 7,400 miles (11,909 kilometres) between the two airports.

KQ's Dreamliners on the new route will have a capacity of 234 seats.

"We have the technology to do it. We are operating our Dreamliner 787-8 which have the right range performance engines that give us the possibility of taking off from a high elevation airport in Nairobi and do non-stop to New York," Mikosz said.

KQ will commence direct non-stop flights to New York on October 28.

The new development has brought excitement to the country which is anticipating for improved connection, which gives travelers an option of flying direct to the US, rather than the current traditional connections mainly through Europe and the Middle East.

KQ's operations between Nairobi and New York are expected to boost tourism and trade between the two countries.

The US is among Kenya's top international tourists' sources with more than 100,000 visitors coming to Kenya annually.

Mikosz said the airline is keen to expand the market by flying in more visitors.

"This is a market that exists and we want to expand it," he said.

Nairobi will be the eight city in Africa to have direct flights to the US and KQ the fifth African carrier to have non-stop flights to America.

African carriers that fly to the US include Egypt Air and Ethiopian airline.

Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph has also assured travelers of quality service on-board .

"We have excellent food. Our staff team is fantastic so we ask everyone to fly with us," Joseph said.

The two lead a team of KQ officials to the US this week to cement the airline's relations with the American market ahead of the inaugural flight, where they were joined by President Uhuru Kenyatta to lure the American market to Kenya.

The Nairobi-New York route will be a shot in the arm for KQ which is implementing a turn-around strategy to help it bounce back to profitability, after almost four years of recording losses.

The national carrier narrowed its losses to Ksh4 billion in the financial year ended June 2018 from Ksh5.6 billion (loss) reported in 2017.

KQ's worst year was 2016 when it reported a Ksh26.2 billion loss. This was a deep from Ksh25.7 billion loss in 2015.

"We are on the right direction to turn this airline around and make it once more the pride of Africa,' Joseph said.

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