US yet to make decision on direct flights over security concerns

Kenya yet to meet all conditions for direct flights to the United States.

Thursday January 14 2016

US Ambassador Robert Godec said that the American government is yet to determine when direct flights to and from Kenya would commence due to security concerns. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

US Ambassador Robert Godec said that the American government is yet to determine when direct flights to and from Kenya would commence due to security concerns. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MATHIAS RINGA
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The US government is yet to make a final decision on when direct flights between America and Kenya would commence, due to security concerns.

US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said although the Kenya has made progress in addressing the aviation requirements, there were still some security issues which needed to be sorted out.

Some of the concerns touch on security at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, which is Kenya’s topmost aviation gateway.

In an exclusive interview with the Nation at Ali Mazrui Memorial Library at Majengo in Mombasa on Tuesday, Mr Godec said the US government had given Kenya technical support to help it meet the requirements.

When pushed to give a timeline, Mr Godec said: “We are not quite there yet. Threats must be addressed. We cannot give a timeframe and announcements on when the direct flights will commence.”

LAMU TRAVEL ADVISORY

Last week, the government said direct flights between Kenya and the US could become a reality in four months.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Kenya had completed “almost all” relevant audit requirements given by the US aviation authorities, hence the bold projection.

“We anticipate that we shall commence direct flights to the USA by May 2016, having as of now cleared almost all aviation audit issues,” Mr Macharia told the Nation last week.

When Mr Godec was asked about the US travel advisories against Lamu, he said they were still in force since the county was under threat from extremism activities.

“Lamu is still under threat due to extremism around Boni forest. The security concerns on Lamu must be addressed to make the region safe,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Godec officially opened the Ali Mazrui Memorial Library in honour of  renowned scholar, the late Professor Ali Mazrui.

He said the library would boost education in Mombasa and called on youth and women to make full use of it.

The US Embassy had helped equip the library with laptops, books, among other necessities.