Kenya upbeat on US direct flights

Local airlines could soon start flying direct to the US airports, Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet secretary, Eng Michael Kamau announced yesterday. He revealed the Government was in talks with US ambassador to Kenya, Mr Robert Godec, on the plans and is hopeful the flights could start in coming months.

Kamau cited improved regulations in the local aviation sector and security improvement at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport had raised the country’s prospects for the long-awaited flights. “We are working closely with the US ambassador. Very soon we will start flying directly to the US,” said Kamau during a demonstration flight of Kenya Airways new aircraft, Boeing 777-300 ER.

“US should now open up its skies for us and stop issuance of travel advisories to the country,” said the national carrier’s chief executive, Dr Titus Naikuni. The new aircraft, named after Maasai Mara to market the tourist site, will start direct flights to Guangzhou, China, mid this month. It will fly to city three times a week.

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“With a capacity of 400 passengers and a cargo capacity of 60 tonnes, the aircraft fits in our strategy of targeting 0.1 per cent of Chinese population,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta before he flagged off the new aircraft. Kenya passed the Civil Aviation Bill 2013 — just before the March 4 General Election — that introduced a legal framework that enhances airline safety and strengthens the inspection role of Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. According to Kamau, the new law has improved the local aviation industry rating by International Civil Aviation Organisation. – By CONRAD ONYANGO

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