US verdict on Kenya flights out in 6 weeks

Monday November 13 2017

A section of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A section of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By GERALD ANDAE
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Kenya will know its fate on the direct flights to the US before Christmas following completion of the final audit by an American transport agency.

Transport secretary James Macharia said Monday the results of the audit of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as the last point of departure would be out in the next six weeks.

The officials from US Transportation Security Administration were in the country two weeks ago for a four-day audit of the facility.

“The results of this audit will be out in six weeks time and we expect to have performed well,” said Mr Macharia in a news conference.

The minister said they are looking at June next year as a possible commencement date for direct flights between the two states.

This is the second and final audit that holds the key to direct flights between Kenya and the US with the government expressing optimism on the outcome.

Delta Airlines previously set a launch date for flights but cancelled due to security concerns.

Financially embattled Kenya Airways also plans to offer direct flights. The US air traffic usually transits through hubs such as Dubai and Amsterdam.

Some of the key audit parameters included documentation of the processes at the airport, security perimeter at the facility and access control measures put in place by Kenya Airports Authority.

If the audit reveals that Kenya has made progress since the last review in 2016 then the JKIA will be issued with a certificate that will allow not only Kenya Airways to fly directly to the US from Nairobi but also any other airline that has been approved by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The last remaining hurdle will be the granting of the Kenya Airways an Air Operator Certificate by the FAA after inspecting the carrier’s equipment and facilities.

So far, Kenya has been granted two of the required four conditions to commence direct US flights.

The first one was in February when the country got a Category One status with the second one being the commercial authority to operate, which was granted to Kenya Airways recently.