Ahead of the expected start of their flights, now expected in early 2009, Delta Airlines has now opened offices in Nairobi. The move is expected to allow for cultivating ties with the business community and the travel agents in order to generate enough bookings, once the flights commence.
Only recently did Kenya and the United States sign a new bilateral open skies air services agreement, which caters for flights between the two countries by designated carrier. Presently, this will be Delta and Kenya Airways, once they have received more of their ordered Boeing aircraft to serve such a route.
The office in Kenya will also oversee the neighboring markets of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia for the time being, with connecting flights offered by Kenya Airways. Both Delta and Kenya Airways are members of Sky Team and are expected to cooperate closely in developing traffic for passengers and cargo on the planned route.
Flights were initially due to commence much earlier but the post-election violence following the disputed elections in Kenya threw the timetable into disarray.
Subsequently even a late 2008 start was pushed further into 2009 to allow the market to stabilize first. Delta is said to be planning four flights a week via Dakar in Senegal, and there is some anticipation that Kenya Airways may eventually under a code share offer the additional three flights to make for daily direct connections between the US and Kenya.
Tourism and trade will both benefit as it will allow swifter access for American tourists to the East African game parks while also facilitating cargo uplift capacity for exports from Eastern Africa to the US without having to go through Europe.