KQ to resume direct flights to the US starting October

KQ plane. [Photo courtesy]

Kenya-US direct flights are set to resume in October, two months after the resumption of international flights, Kenya Airways (KQ) Chairman Michael Joseph announced.

The flights leave the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for New York’s John F Kennedy Airport.

Joseph who left the country on Saturday in the inaugural flight to London said the direct flight will be once a week.

“I think we will go once a week and then we will start to build. If we see the demand is up, we will go two times or three times a week. I don’t know when we will go back to daily flights to the US because of the pandemic,” he told the Star.

The direct flight to the US for KQ commenced in October 2018 bringing down the journey to 15 hours from 22 hours there before.

A year after its launch, there were 594 flights to and from New York with an estimated 105,084 passengers being shuttled within this period. KQ’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets were deployed for the journey due to the 23-seater capacity.

It operated daily flights.

With no direct flights between now and October, passengers who would have wanted to board a direct flight will have to get a flight to the US in Europe or the Gulf.

Kenya resumed international flights on Saturday, August 1. KQ’s first flight left for London while on Sunday, The British Airways and Lufthansa landed at JKIA after three months since lockdown.

Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) acting managing director Alex Gitari while speaking at JKIA moments after the arrival of the two international airlines said that it is a good sign since KQ has lost 80 percent of its business.

“Covid-19 Pandemic is undoubtedly a global crisis of unprecedented proportions; the enormous aftermath on the aviation industry has affected all airport users, workforce and the whole supply chain,” Gitari said.

“We have not had international flights for 120 days, this resumption of international flights will also buoy the fortunes of KAA.”

With the pandemic, KAA has reduced human interaction by investing in technology in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus.

The airport has e-passport scanners which allow passengers to check-in and proceed with their activities without any contact at the immigration counters. There are also thermal screening equipment all over and sanitization booths.

Last week, the Ministry of Transport announced that all passenger travelling to Kenya will be required to produce a certificate ascertaining they are COVID-free. The PCR test should be done 96 hours before travel.