Direct flights between Kenya and US to be a reality soon


Kenya’s efforts to get direct flights to the US got a boost after US Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration pledged to get direct flights between the two countries.

Speaking during last week’s American Chamber of Commerce-Kenya (ACCK) luncheon at a Nairobi hotel, Gration who did not give a definite date said getting direct flights would open up the markets for Kenya’s products to the US.

"There are tremendous opportunities in Kenya’s energy and transportation sectors, great prospects for port expansion and infrastructure development," Gration said.

"I have made getting direct flights between the US to Kenya a top priority. I believe that these flights would significantly strengthen our commercial and economic ties, and would create jobs in both of our countries."



He said having direct flights would give Kenya access to 300 million potential customers in the United States.

"Companies on both sides of the Atlantic would benefit from higher cargo volumes, faster delivery times, and lower shipping costs," he explained.

While encouraging US citizens and companies to invest in Kenya, Gration said Kenya is strategically located as a trade and transportation hub for East Africa. He also pointed out that it has tremendous human capital.

He cited road construction and effort to improve goods clearance at the port of Mombasa as some of the reasons why US companies should invest in the country.



"Smart companies are capitalising on Africa’s significant opportunities and great business potential. We need to get the word to American investors, to invite them to join us here in Kenya," Gration, who grew up in Kenya, said.

Efforts to have Delta Airlines to fly directly into the country were put on hold a year ago following threats of insecurity caused by the militant group, al-Shabaab in Somalia.

In 2009, Delta Airlines cancelled the launch of direct flights from Nairobi and Atlanta the last minute, after failing to receive approval from the Transport Security Administration (TSA) and US government.

TSA cited concerns of Somali piracy along the Kenyan coast as the reason for not approving direct air link between the two nations.



Gration called for a solution to the piracy menace on the coastline of Somalia, saying it is hurting business. He pointed out that the issue was a priority for his government, and stressed the need for a comprehensive, integrated solution to the crisis.

"It is not only a US problem but the international community as well. We should find a lasting solution to the piracy menace as it is making it expensive to transport cargo on the shore line of the Indian Ocean," Gration added.





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