Two hurdles to clear for direct Kenya-US flights

By Gardy chacha | Published Tue, July 11th 2017 at 09:16, Updated July 11th 2017 at 09:20 GMT +3

This emerged last Thursday at a meeting attended by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development James Macharia where he announced the appointment of Joseph Nkadayo as the new Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) chairman.

Eng Nkadayo takes over from Samuel Poghisio who had been at the helm for the last two years.

Kenya attained Category One status, awarded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last February. Only four other countries in Africa - South Africa, Ethiopia, Cape Verde and Nigeria ? have attained such status. “Attaining category one is the first step,” said KCAA Director General Captain Gilbert Kibe. “Step two will be for Kenyan carriers willing to fly to the US to be audited for security by US Transportation Security Administration (USTSA).”

According to Capt Kibe, the audit should be finalised by October 2017. Kenya Airways has already applied to FAA for technical authority to operate into the US, an application that the captain opined was progressing well.

Traffic rights

The US department of transport issued KQ with traffic rights in June, last month - four months ahead of expectations. “This came as a shock to us because we expected the traffic rights to be issued in October 2017,” Kibe said. “What this means is that the US takes Kenya seriously.”

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KCAA is awaiting for JKIA audit before the end of October this year by USTSA, for the airport to be issued with last point of departure clearance. This will give way to direct flights to America. “KQ, it is our hope, would be granted technical authority to operate by FAA by April 2018,” Kibe said, adding the first direct flight to US from JKIA will commence in June 2018 if that happens.

CS Macharia touts that direct flights will boost the economy as it will open up innumerable channels for trade and increase prospects from investors, and tourists from the US.

“Our flowers, which go through Europe, arrive in the US with diminished value. They will now arrive there when fresh and attract better revenue,” Macharia said.

In the 2016 Universal Security Audit Program, by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), KCAA scored 89 per cent, above global average.

In the last Universal Safety Oversight program, also managed by ICAO, in 2013, KCAA scored 78 per cent compared to the global average of 62 per cent.