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Excitement galore as Kenya Airways plane embarks on inaugural flight to US

By Gloria Aradi | Oct 30th 2018 | 3 min read
By Gloria Aradi | October 30th 2018

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto wave as the Kenya Airways Dreamliner 787 starts its journey to New York, USA, on Sunday. [Samuel Miring'u, Standard]

Kenya Airways maiden flight to the United States yesterday touched down at the JFK International airport in New York at 2pm local time.

The flight KQ Boeing 787-8 which left Nairobi on Sunday at about 11.20 pm was steered by Captain by Joseph Kinuthia and Eric Mbugua assisted by Jobba Musa and Patrick Kipsambu. On hand to take care of the 234 passengers were 12 flight attendants.

On Sunday, animated onlookers craned their necks as they held up smartphones and cameras from behind metallic barriers.

The venue was Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and the time was 11pm. The buzz at the international departures section captured the mood of those gathered to witness the historic flagging off of the Kenya Airways maiden flight to New York, USA.

Behind them on the taxiway was Magical Kenya, the glossy and majestic clear-white Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, slowly but triumphantly stretching in.

As the plane proudly flashed the bright red, green and black colours of the Kenya Airways and Magical Kenya logos, enthusiastic passengers aboard the flight peered out of the windows and took pictures.

Besides journalists covering the event, others who assembled to watch the flight take off were employees of the United States embassy and various Government institutions, including Kenya Airways, JKIA and Kenya Airports Authority. These were the people who had worked hard for months, some years, to ensure KQ’s inaugural and subsequent flights to and from New York City’s John F Kennedy International Airport succeed.

At the front of the barrier were prominent people, from President Uhuru Kenyatta to US Ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec, Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, several Cabinet and permanent secretaries and other senior Government officials.

Finally, the Boeing gliding down the taxiway came to a stop. At 11pm, President Kenyatta symbolically handed over the Kenyan flag to Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma, officially flagging off the flight.

After shaking hands with the President, Dr Juma and Mr Godec, carrying the Kenyan and American flags respectively, walked on a red carpet and ascending the boarding steps. Flight attendants waved to the crowd and closed the door.

As the President left, the plane started taxiing on the long runway, beginning at around 11.25pm and eventually taking off some minutes to midnight.

The historic moment that was followed by Kenyans countrywide was the culmination of 10 years of intensive planning.

Transport CS James Macharia had, earlier that day, tweeted: “A journey that begun in 2008 when Kenya & the U.S.A signed a Bilateral Air Services Agreement has finally bore fruit, 10 years later.”

Although the plans for the flight seemed well planned, there were a few hiccups. Invitations sent out by Kenya Airways urged attendees to arrive at JKIA by 6pm. But almost two hours later, many of them, including Cabinet secretaries, were still at the waiting area for security clearance to get into the venue.

Journalists covering the event waited for more than three hours for their security passes to be processed.

As he flagged off the flight a few minutes after 11pm, the President noted: “The non-stop flights between Nairobi and New York City are set to provide a seamless experience for business and leisure travellers alike.”

The return flight left JFK airport yesterday (Monday) at 7pm Kenyan time and will land at JKIA today at 10.30am.

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