The Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted Kenya Airways the first set of licenses as a step towards direct US flights.
The DOT gave Kenya Airways “exemption authority” which allows the carrier to commence direct flights to the USA as long as it secures clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other applicable State agencies.
KQ also received a Foreign Air Carrier Permit (FACP). This, too, is subject to clearance from several US security, aviation, and border agencies.
The FACP is a long term or permanent license which carries a duration-tied bilateral aviation agreement between the US and an applicant’s country, or a five-year minimum if there is no pact in existence.
Due to the lengthy processing times for the FACP, airlines simultaneously apply for the two-year exemption authority which KQ received, allowing them to start operations as the FACP is finalized.
“The authority sought by the applicant is encompassed by the US-Kenya Air Transport Agreement,” the DOT has said. “We, therefore, find that grant of the requested exemption authority, for a two-year term, or until the requested permit authority becomes effective, whichever occurs earlier, is warranted.”
Kenya Airways, or KQ as known by its international code, applied for direct flights to the US in April, with hopes that the carrier will have the inaugural landing in Nairobi in June 2018.
The airline is expected to partner with an American airline, which industry speculators suggest to likely be Delta Airlines through code sharing, as it finalizes preparations for independent flights.