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Direct flights to US a major boost to Kenya’s economy

JKIA, Nairobi. Photo/File

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has, finally, granted Jomo Kenyatta International Airport a Category One status. Kenya can run direct flights to America from Nairobi.

This is unarguably the greatest development in the last 10 years in Kenya’s aviation industry. It has a been a long journey to this certification, with lots of false starts and hitches. It always appeared so near, yet it remained a far-away dream.

The certification is crucial to Kenya and must, thus, be given the seriousness it deserves. It is no mean feat. The country has simply attained the highest International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA).

Direct flights will open up business and trade opportunities for Kenyans, the US being one of the biggest markets for Kenyan products. Also, in terms of travel it will reduce the time and cost of flying to the United States of America, which is currently achieved through connections with different airlines. Notably, it will reduce the number of days taken to export cargo from seven days to just one.

Now Kenyans can trade more and conveniently with the United States. Direct flights will be a shot in the arm especially to Kenya Airways, which can hugely reap from this, as well as other operators at JKIA who will be able to launch non-stop routes from Kenya to the US. Besides business and social travels, direct flights will boost tourism.

The US is among the top three source markets for Kenya and less expensive flights will attract more tourists. The horticulture industry should also benefit immensely, with freight savings going straight into farmers’ pockets.

All these will come in handy in helping to stabilise the shilling, too, as there will be more dollar inflow into the economy. But even with the positive nod from the US, Kenya’s authorities still need to do more before the first non-stop flight takes off. There are a number of conditions that must be addressed. Most important of them is security at the airport.

This has been our Achilles’ heel. Kenya, needless to say, is a centre-point of the fight against terrorism and is often a target for Al Shabaab. But recent actions by government appear to be neutralising the terror group’s strength in Kenya with a marked reduction in random attacks that were common a few years back.

The government should invest more in security since any lapse would lead to a withdrawal of the certification. It is a status that we should guard jealously. The writer is the Managing Editor of Business Today ( Email:

The post Direct flights to US a major boost to Kenya’s economy appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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