By KENNEDY KANGETHE, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6 – Kenya Airways (KQ) has been granted air traffic rights to the United States (US) airspaces inching closer to direct flights to the US.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told Capital FM Business the airline now awaits other crucial licenses to see it fly to the US by March 2018.
Among the crucial licenses include the Air Service License which gives it commercial approval and the Air Operating Certificate, which gives it technical authority to operate to the US.
The airline has to seek clearance from the US-Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before commencing flights to America.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) attained “Category one” status on February 23, 2017, having met the mandatory status required by US authorities.
Kenya's main airport was expected to meet eight critical elements in the IASA assessments touching on primary aviation legislation, specific operating regulations, state civil aviation system and safety oversight functions.
Others are technical personnel qualification and training, technical guidance, provision of safety critical information, licensing, certification, authorisation and approval obligations, surveillance obligations and resolution of safety concerns.
The government has been spending heavily on refurbishing JKIA with investments of about Sh1.3 billion in new security equipment as well as Sh9 billion to build Terminal 1 and the fabricated Terminal Two.
Under former US President Barrack Obama's administration, trade and investments between Kenya and the US recorded remarkable growth, with net imports increasing by 206.4 per cent from the previous administration, highlighting the improved activity in trade between the two nations.
Imports from the US increased by 90.4 per cent, faster than exports to the US, which grew by 81.9 per cent, an indication that Kenya depends more on the US; and with over 96 investment projects in Africa worth $6.9bn (Sh702 billion) as at 2015, the US remains to be the single largest investor in Africa.
Kenya receives a large proportion of these investments and as at 2015; Kenya recorded a 12.3 per cent share of Africa's Foreign Direct Investment.
Moreover, the United States is also the number one source market for Kenya's tourists and the move will greatly increase the number of tourists coming to the Kenyan market.
Macharia was speaking after announcing the incoming Chairman of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority's Chairman Joseph Nkadayo who takes over from Samuel Phoghisio.
Nkadayo has over 30 years experience in the public and private sectors project management.