Kenya Airways has submitted an application to the United States’ Department of Transportation for direct flights between Kenya and the United States, outgoing Kenya Airways CEO Mbuvi Ngunze announced on Monday.
Kenya Airways (KQ) is targeting June, 2018 as the inaugural date for direct flights between the two countries.
The development comes after Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was awarded Category One security and safety status in February of this year. The approval process is expected to take about eight months, meaning Kenya Airways could be cleared to fly directly between the two countries by the end of this year, giving the airline enough time to prepare for the June, 2018 inaugural flight.
“When making the application to the US Department of Transportation (DoT), airlines have to submit an indicative date of launch. In our submission we went with mid next year because we have to match the approval date with market trends,” Ngunze said.
Kenya Airways is seeking “economic authority” to partner with an American airline through code-sharing as well as to have independent flights. The US DoT will review KQ’s ownership and management information, financial records, operating plan, passenger manifest information as well as aircraft accident liability insurance in order to award KQ the “economic authority”.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia says Kenya Airways will most partner with Delta Air Lines through a code-sharing agreement, and eventually apply for independent flights to the US.
Macharia says Delta is in the process of applying for flight clearance from Kenya. Delta had been cleared by the Kenya government to fly directly into the country back in 2009 before the US government rescinded the plans due to security concerns.
“I am told Delta are in the process of applying. We had granted them that right before so when they apply it will simply be a matter of refreshing what they had done before,” Macharia said.