Some of Kenya’s Cabinet Secretaries may have been over-excited when they gave dates for the start of direct flights between Kenya and the US, some suggesting this may be as early as November while others, more cautiously, said early next year will this happen.
Reactions now seen from US Federal Aviation Administration staff however suggests that there may still be way to go before this becomes reality.
Comments do speak of undeniable progress which has been made in Kenya in regard of infrastructure as well as regulations and legislation governing aviation, but it is understood that this has yet to be certified by another inspector team on a final audit mission before the FAA can rule on the case.
Delta Airlines of the US had on several occasions in the past attempted to fly to Nairobi, on the last attempt via West Africa, but was on the eve of launching services stopped by a US government directive which at the time infuriated Kenyan officials who were due to attend the inaugural landing before being told there would be none.
Delta is a partner of Kenya Airways in global aviation alliance SkyTeam and the more likely of the two airlines to commence flights, given the level of preparations made in the past and their presence in Nairobi through a sales office. ‘Delta has the means to launch flights at relatively short notice. Traffic is there because right now many Americans fly to Kenya but through other hubs.
That makes the journey longer and eats into the vacation time of these travelers. Kenya Airways may not have the aircraft available right now because the Dreamliner fleet is fully deployed and the B777’s are for all purposes gone. If and when Delta launches it will probably be a codeshare arrangements with KQ until we in Kenya are ready to add our own capacity into the market’ said a regular aviation source from Nairobi overnight when asked to comment.
Two tourism stakeholders, also regular commentators, expressed consternation about this development, saying they felt somewhat misled by official comments from Kenya government officials, who made it sound that all has been approved while it now appears that some final steps need to be taken before JKIA is awarded Cat 1 status.