Kenya – America flights by year-end?

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has formally applied to the US Federal Aviation Administration for Category One Status, which will enable direct flights to the US. The status upgrade, expected in June 2005, is expected to pave the way for national flag carrier, Kenya Airways’ newly acquired Boeing 777 to operate direct flights between Nairobi and Miami or Atlanta.

In 2004, Ethiopia was found to meet ICAO standards, and Ethiopian Airlines began direct service between Addis Ababa and Washington’s Dulles Airport, becoming the fourth sub-Saharan African airline after South African Airways, Ghana Airways and Air Afrique to serve the United States.

Sources revealed that the US authorities have finally given in to pressure and dropped about 80 per cent of the tough conditions it laid down for the project that were considered to be too expensive for Kenya. The government has made a provision of Sh1.6 billion (US$20 million) to upgrade the airport through a comprehensive programme that will see domestic flights relocated to the old Embakasi airport. The project is to be co-financed by the World Bank to the tune of Sh936 million (US$12 million) and the balance of Sh624 million has to be met by Kenya Airports Authority. The work also involves setting up of a 26 KM security fence marking the airport boundary and expansion of the runways so that that at least two aircraft would be in a position to land and take-off at the same time.