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What KQ's direct flight from Nairobi to New York means :: Kenya

The countdown to Kenya's major day in the civil aviation industry ended yesterday. Then Kenya's national operator made its initial…

The countdown to Kenya’s major day in the civil aviation industry ended yesterday. Then Kenya’s national operator made its initial direct flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Nairobi to John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City.

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The nickname “Zambezi River”, Dreamliner 787-8 will have a reinforced two sets of crews with a passenger capacity of 234.

With that, Kenya will join the global airlines with a landing spot at the prestigious JFK airport, the fifth country of sub-Saharan Africa, to fly directly to the United States after South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria. Cape Verde also fly directly to the United States.

KQ joins Singapore Airlines, which recently launched an initial 1

9-hour non-stop flight from Singapore to New York on a new Airbus A350-900.

KQ’s approval to earn a starting point at the JFK airport was no average. In aviation conditions, a landing point or starting point is a right to which an airport owner applies a slot to plan a landing or departure for a certain period of time.

The track is distributed in accordance with guidelines established by the International Air Transport Association’s Worldwide Airport Slots Group.

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In February, JKIA, when assessed, tested and audited, granted permission from the US Federal Aviation Authority to start direct flights from Nairobi to New York.

In an onboard flight interview, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Monica Juma, recognized the efforts and hard work that made it a success.

This development has broken sharp focus discussions on how Kenya and Africa will benefit from direct flights in terms of trade, tourism and diaspora remedies.

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The direct flights will link Kenya and Africa in general to the West Indian coast and the western hemisphere consisting of America, parts of Eurasia, Russia, Oceania and Antarctica.

They will grow trade ties and volumes between Kenya and the United States, thereby increasing government efforts to reduce the current trade balance in favor of the United States.

According to trade statistics, total US-Kenya trade last year amounted to Sh102.2 billion, while US exports to Kenya amounted to Sh57.2 billion while Kenyan exports to the US amounted to Sh45 billion.

With the launch of direct flights in Nairobi, New York, an increase in the flow of goods and services between the two countries will amount to almost 25 percent per year.

More importantly, Kenya has the opportunity to increase the supply of its goods to the US market and to reap the benefits of African Growth Probability Law which provides duty-free exports for selected products.

As trade grows, there will be more exchange gains and technical transfers that create employment not only in Kenya but also in East Africa and Africa as a whole. With shortened flight time and zero layover, the traditional 22-hour cross-Atlantic journey will be reduced to 14 hours.

Kenya now has the opportunity not only to increase its trade with the United States but also to promote the inflow of foreign investment. Investors can hold meetings in Kenya, have dinner in Nairobi and have breakfast in New York City.

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The direct flights will also promote tourism through increased visitors’ arrival from the United States and the Western Hemisphere, which is expected to open Kenya for new growth limits.

Last year, USA was Kenya’s leading source of tourist market with 114,507 visitors. The sector is expected to grow by 16 percent due to Kenya-US direct flights and “show-on-arrival” policy for Africans.

Finally, direct flights will serve as an incentive to invest at home for the Kenyan diaspora community in the US and America through diaspora transfers.

Last year, figures from the Central Bank of Kenya stated that the total inflows of the diaspora amounted to Sh194 billion, with the United States being the main source of diaspora exchanges with Sh100 billion.

The author is an economist and commentator on trade and investment.

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