Kenya Airways is edging closer to operating direct flights to the US, with only two more hurdles standing on its way.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has expressed optimism that KQ will soon overcome the two barriers to achieve the milestone.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a permit to KQ to operate passenger, mail and cargo flights directly to the US.
In February, the US issued Kenya Airways the first approval for direct flights after the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was granted Category One status by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
On Friday, CS Macharia there were two pending approvals by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and FAA before KQ is allowed to fly a maiden direct flight to the US.
“There are two more steps which are not as onerous as the first two,” he said.
One of the approvals by the TSA is will be granted after the ongoing audit of JKIA, to certify it as secure as a “last point of departure” for flights heading to the US. This inspection will be completed by the end of next month.
KQ also needs a nod from FAA to get an Air Operator Certificate after inspecting the carrier’s equipment and facilities.
“This approval by the DOT has been achieved thanks to the hard work of great individuals within all the departments of KQ. I am confident that our team will complete the next milestones with the same success and allow us to operate non-stop flights to the US in 2018”, said Kenya Airways Commercial Director Vincent Coste on Friday.
If granted, direct flights to US would cut to less than 12 hours a journey that can currently take up to 19 hours as passengers and cargo are routed through Europe, the Middle East or South Africa.