Kenya Airways’ has started selling tickets for its maiden direct flight to New York on October 28.
Economy class fliers will pay Sh89,000 both ways, CEO Sebastian Mikosz announced at the launch on Thursday, adding travellers can start making advance online bookings,
Mikosz said business class customers will pay Sh257,634 both ways and that the tickets will be subject to government approval.
The aircraft, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, will leave the Nairobi airport at 11.25 pm daily and reach John F Kennedy International Airport in New York at 6.25 am the next day.
It will then leave New York at 12.25 pm the same day and land in Nairobi at 10.55 am the following day.
Kenya Airways said the timings were set to allow connections to and from 40 African destinations.
“The move will cut the flight time between the two cities by more than seven hours,” he said, noting it will take 15 hours eastbound and 14 hours westbound.
Economy fliers on Qatar Airways will pay Sh93,000 from Nairobi to New York but they will stop at Doha for two and a half hours and the trip will take 22 hours and 30 minutes long.
The KQ planes will carry 234 passengers, with 30 at the premium world class and 204 in the economy section. They will have four pilots, 12 flight attendants and 85 tonnes of fuel loaded one way.
“This ultra-long haul flight requires ultra-resources and we are providing the best for our guests,” Mikosz said.
The chief executive noted the US is Kenya’s top tourist source market, with 95,771 people having visited between January and Oct 2017.
“This marks a 20 per cent increase in traffic every year for the past two years,” he said.
Economic set to improve
Mikosz said the airline decided to fly directly to the US after considering the industry perspective.
“It is an essential piece of the puzzle that was missing. Kenya Airways has interests in corporate and premium leisure,” he said, adding Kenya’s economy will improve as a result.
“It will generate jobs, boost trade and stimulate tourism into Kenya.
“This is an exciting moment for us. It fits within our strategy to attract corporate and high-end tourism traffic from the world to Kenya and Africa. We are honored to contribute to the economic growth of Kenya and East Africa.”
On Wednesday, Interior CS Fred Matiangi announced major changes in operations at the JKIA for the next 100 days, as part of preparations for the direct flights.
Matiang’i also ordered that all staff at the airport undergo a mandatory customer care training.
“All airport staff will undergo customer care training at Utalii College, a seven-day crash programme to ensure we improve service delivery.”
The Cabinet Secretary said everything must be done to ensure operations at Kenya’s largest airport are streamlined. -The Star