History was made on Sunday night in Kenya (at 4:29 pm Eastern Time) when KQ’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner left the Jomo Kenyatta International runway heading to New York.
The jet was flagged off by President Uhuru Kenyatta marking the historic moment. The president said the new route opens Kenya for business.
“These flights are set to provide a seamless experience for business and leisure travellers alike. It will allow the world to taste Kenya’s diverse cultures and hospitality,” he said.
This has been a decade-long journey for Kenya to achieve direct flights between Nairobi and New York.
Onboard was CNN’s business journalist Richard Quest, Jeff Koinange of Citizen TV among other notable figures.
The Kenya Airways flight is expected to touch down in the US on Monday morning at 6:55am ET (1:55pm Kenyan time), marking a major milestone in Kenya’s aviation industry.
Kenya is the eighth country in Africa to operate direct flights to the US. Other countries include Ethiopia, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal, Cape Verde, Ghana, and Nigeria.
The flight will take 16 hours, setting a good deal for Kenya’s horticulture industry which has for long been eyeing to expand the share of the American market.
Inside the cockpit is the senior pilot at KQ, Captain Joseph Kinuthia. Kinuthia, 65, has been flying since he was 21 and has done 25,000 hours of actual flying, he has also enhanced his flying capacity in another 15,000 hours of training in the simulator.
Captain Kinuthia has in the past flown former president Moi, and he also flown Pope John Paul II from Nairobi to Rome.
Other pilots on this inaugural direct flight to New York are Eric Mbugua, Jobba Musa and Patrick Kipsambu.