The ultra-long flights from JKIA to JFK (15-hour KQ002 23:25 – 06:25 next day) and return leg (14-hour KQ003 12:25 – 10:55 next day) will be operated using two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, and an extended crew of 4 pilots and 13 flight attendants on each leg.
KQ Chairman, Michael Joseph said this was a significant event after long planning and extensive interaction with US authorities (11 different agencies in the US are involved) while CEO Sebastian Mikosz said that they were targeting two main groups of flyers – corporate (48 US companies and international organizations that have their regional hubs in Nairobi) and premium leisure tourists (the USA is a top tourist source for Kenya that had 95,000 visitors between January and October in 2017, which was a 20% increase over the last two years).
Kenya Airways is investing heavy with daily flights to New York (85,000 seats each way per year) that they estimate will have significant uptake, similar to the airline’s current routes to Europe (~85% loads) due to the attractiveness of non-stop flights between Nairobi and New York and they expect that the USA flights will constitute up to 10% of the airline’s revenue after 2019. The KQ Boeing Dreamliners seat 234 passengers – 30 in business class (tickets start at $2,499) and 204 in economy class (tickets start at $869).
In future, the airline will take back two other B-787 from Oman Air when the leases expire in 2019 and they also plan to sign a joint venture code-share with Delta Airlines in 2019 to expand the sale of tickets in the USA beyond New York.