Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways, the country’s national carrier, has been granted a permit by the U.S. government to operate direct flights to America.

According to an order issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the permit became effective on September 5 after the airline passed its final regulatory hurdle in its quest to operate on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Kenya was in February granted Category One status as officials from America’s Federal Aviation Administration gave approval for non-stop direct flights between the two countries.

This set the stage for Kenya Airways and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to begin going through the final regulatory hurdles before flights commence.

The U.S. Department of Transport in a statement said:

“The holder shall also be authorized to engage in: Scheduled and charter foreign air transportation of persons, property, and mail from any point or points behind Kenya, via any point or points in Kenya and any intermediate points, to any point or points in the United States and beyond, subject to the terms, conditions, and limitations of the Department’s regulations governing charters.”

With the permit, KQ will be able to handle both passenger and cargo transport to and from America.

The move comes as a major relief as well as marks a major milestone for the national carrier which has been pushing for direct flights as part of its strategy to diversify its markets and boost passenger numbers.

The Department of Transportation had in June recommended that the airline is granted the permit if there were no public objections. The U.S. President was also given a 61-day window to disapprove the permit if he wished so.

No objection came about by the time the window expired on September 05.

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A final audit of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is scheduled to take place in October.

Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism has so far been conducting familiarization tours for U.S. based tour operators to lure American tourists to Kenya.

Kenya Airways has also indicated its plan to likely enter a code share agreement with one of its Sky Team partners to operate the flights. Delta Air Lines, a member of Sky Team, is seen as KQ likely partner to operate direct flights.