Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has told the Daily Nation that Kenya had completed “almost all” relevant audit requirements demanded by the US before direct flights between the two countries can commence.
“We anticipate that we shall commence direct flights to the USA by May 2016, having as of now cleared almost all aviation audit issues,” Mr Macharia said.
However even if a bilateral agreement between the two countries is signed, the final decision over whether to begin the flights remains with airlines.
Kenya Airways had plans for direct flights to the US under “Project Mawingu” but massive financial losses forced management to review the airline’s strategic plans. Clearly, Kenya Airways is in no position to launch an ultra-long haul route.
US carrier Delta has previously expressed interest in flying to Nairobi. However, the airline has announced changes to its flight schedules including dropping the Atlanta – Dubai route. There would have to be significant commercial traffic between Nairobi and the US for Delta – or any other US carrier – to justify direct flights.
Pan Am, the legendary US carrier that closed down in 1991, flew between Nairobi and the US but with stopovers initially at Dakar (Senegal) and later at Frankfurt (Germany).