Kenya Airways completes historic non-stop flight to New York

The new direct connection between Nairobi and the US is expected to boost Kenya’s economy

Kenya Airways has accomplished a huge milestone in its operations. On Monday, the African carrier completed a non-stop flight from Nairobi to New York — launching a regular service between Kenya and the United States.

The new daily flights from Nairobi to John F. Kennedy international airport take 15 hours and Kenya’s authorities expect it to boost the country’s economy and investments.

“This day and milestone will not only have a history on the aviation industry but also the history of the opening of the eastern hemisphere,” said Kenya’s foreign affairs cabinet secretary, ambassador Monica Juma, who was on board the historic flight.

Tourism is a major source of income for Kenya. In 2017 it brought the country $1.2 billion, which is an increase of more than 20 per cent from $989 million the previous year, while the US is one of the country’s biggest tourism markets.

Travel from the United States grew by 17 per cent with 114,507 arrivals in 2017, according to figures released by Kenya’s Tourism Ministry.

Building a direct connection between the two countries is expected to generate even higher figures.

“The non-stop flight between Nairobi and New York will open up opportunities for investment, tourism and other business opportunities in Kenya and Africa. This is a major confidence boost to the economic wellbeing of the country and a positive signal for increased foreign direct investments,” the carrier said in a Facebook post.

In 2017 tourism in Kenya generated $1.2 billion, 20 per cent that the previous year — Shutterstock Kenya Airways completes historic non-stop flight to New York
In 2017, tourism in Kenya generated $1.2 billion, 20 per cent more than the previous year — Shutterstock

“This is an exciting moment for us,” Kenya Airways Group managing director and chief executive Sebastian Mikosz said in a statement. “It fits within our strategy to attract corporate and high-end tourism traffic from the world to Kenya and Africa.”

“With infrastructure spending set to slow from past highs as Kenya embarks on fiscal consolidation, and with private-sector credit still weak, Kenya is in need of additional growth drivers,” said Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank.

“Direct flights to the US will provide a substantial boost to tourism, which has been growing strongly, providing a potential offset to other growth headwinds.”