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State restarts bid to have direct US-Kenya flights

By By John Oyuke
Updated Thu, July 12th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

Efforts to have direct flights between the United States and Kenya went up a notch after the Government and a delegation from the city of Denver, Colorado, approved the creation of a lobbyist committee to pursue the matter.

Albus Brooks from the Denver City Council’s of District 8 said the council was ready to lobby for air links between the two countries as soon a joint a committee is established in Nairobi.

The leader of the delegation – comprising officials, businessmen and students – said Nairobi had became Denver’s third sister city in 1975, and direct flights between the two cities would mark an important progression.

Delta Airlines, a United States airline headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia cancelled the launch of direct flights from Nairobi and Atlanta last minute in 2009, after failing to receive approval from the Transport Security Administration (TSA) and US government.

Solidify position

TSA cited concerns of Somali piracy along the Kenyan coast as the reason for not approving direct air link between the two nations.

Speaking when he received the City of Denver group at his offices on Tuesday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Kenya was working to address security and infrastructure concerns that halted the Delta flight.

He said completion of Terminal 4 of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) – currently under construction – would address the concerns that led to the cancellation of direct flights by Delta Air lines.

He also said the terminal will separate arrivals from departures, which was a key concern raised by US authorities and Delta Airlines.

“Direct flights from Atlanta were cancelled at the last minute because we had not yet separated arrivals from departures. We are working on this now. Having direct flights between Kenya and US is long overdue,” said Odinga.

“For us, it will mean our farmers delivering their flowers, coffee and other products to the US market,” the PM added.

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