Kenya Airways will start its non-stop daily flights to the US in October with a great introductory offer of $869 for economy class. Kenya Airways announced on Thursday that the ticket sales for the Nairobi- New York flight route can now be purchased. This milestone will see it become the first airline to offer a non- stop flight between East Africa and The United States of America. With the ticket sales now on-going, the inaugural flight is scheduled to take place on 28th October 2018. The airline already serves Africa, Europe, Middle-East, Indian sub-continent and Asia. The opening of the US destination will complete an essential piece of the puzzle in Kenya Airways’ network, cementing the airline’s position as one of the leading African carriers.
The flights will be 15 hours eastbound, and 14 hours westbound, cutting down flight times for passengers by around 6 hours. To put this in context a non-direct flight from Nairobi to New York takes an average of 20 hours with a stopover in Europe or the Middle East.
For these daily flights, the airline will operate its state of the art Boeing 787 Dreamliner which will have a capacity of 234 passengers; 30 in the business class and 204 in the economy class. The schedule of the daily direct flight from JKIA to JFK and vice versa is as follows;
JKIA- JFK – Depart at 23.25, arrive at 06.25
JFK- JKIA – Depart at 12.25, arrive at 10.55
The arrival times are also extended to accommodate an extra hour. This is because the airline is offering two unique travelling experiences using different gateways. The first gateway is the 15-hour flight eastbound and the second one is the 14-hour flight westbound. This extra-long haul will be manned by 4 pilots and 12 flight attendants who will work in shifts. The airplane will contain 85 tons of fuel each way. As of now, the entry-level tickets in the economy class are going for an introductory price of $869 for economy and $2,499 for the business class.
The flight is expected to boost KQ revenues by at least 10% in the 2019 financial year. There will be 85,000 seats for sale on the route with a load factor of between 75% to 90% expected in the first year. In 2019 when Kenya Airways expects to have signed its codeshare agreement with Delta Airlines passenger numbers are expected to be boosted further.
So, what does this new opportunity do for the country’s economy?
First and foremost, 48 American companies and international organizations including PWC, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Google and many more have their regional hubs in Kenya. This daily direct channel will boost trade in terms of goods and services which are bound to boost the country’s revenue.
Additionally, The United States of America is a major tourist source for the Kenyan Market with the Kenya Tourism Board data showing that 95,771 tourists have visited Kenya from January to October 2017. The direct flights will hopefully significantly boost tourism numbers and it will also make it easier for Kenyans to travel back home without the inconvenience of layovers.
Also, the flight will not only connect Kenya and the United States of America. Since it is the only direct flight from East Africa to The US, many citizens from Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Ethiopia will fly to Kenya to access this flight. As it is, the tourist industry in Kenya has gotten a major boost in the last 2 years averaging about 20% increase in tourist traffic every year. This added channel is likely to push those margins higher in coming years.
This new route is also expected to generate direct and indirect employment opportunities in the country. Kenya Airways has announced that it will create around 150 new jobs for more pilots and crew.