On Thursday, Kenya Airways began selling tickets for its new flight from its main hub in Nairobi to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. The announcement came as a relief and confirmed the carrier had received the nod to land in the USA after a gruelling approval process. However, ATW understands Ethiopian is not able to operate eastbound flights to the United States because its Addis Ababa Bole International Airport hub sits at high sea level (7,657 ft. above sea level), which reduces engine performance and requiring requiring a longer takeoff run, potentially exceeding the amount of available runway. "It will determine the future of KQ and also shows the determination that KQ has to return to being the pride of Africa", he said.
Kenya's tourism sector also stands to benefit from the new route as America is one of the main source of visitors to the East Africa's largest economy. The return flight will leave NY at 12:25 p.m. and arrive in Nairobi the next day at 10:55 a.m. From New-York it will depart at 1225 and land at JKIA at 1055 the following day.
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"The flights will be the fastest connection from East Africa to NY, with 15 hours duration eastbound and 14 hours westbound". Though the flight will take upwards of 15 hours, in some cases, it will afford passengers much more time at their origin and/or destination.
The national carrier has over the past one year reorganised its routes in a bid to free up capacity to fly direct to the US.
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Then the US Department of Transportation issued the permit for direct flights on September 5, 2017.
With over 40 American multinationals located in Nairobi and many more across Africa, the launch of daily flights is expected to further spur trade between America and Africa. Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) chief executive officer, Dr Betty Radier, welcomed the development saying anticipation is high the number of tourists visiting Kenya from the USA will grow.
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Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph said that the flights will symbolize the comeback for the airline that has been making losses for the past few years.