Hurdles KQ needs to clear first before landing on the US soil

Kenya Airways has to wait for close to a year before all the paperwork can be put in order.

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FAA awarded the JKIA “Category One” status on February 23, the mandatory status any airport requires to have to be allowed to handle direct flights to the US.

“The US has to audit the airline to ensure it has technical capacity to operate,” KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe told a local daily.

The all-important must have permits for takeoff are the Air Service Licence which will allow KQ to operate commercial flights and the Air Operating Certificate which will be given after the airline's technical capacity is assessed and approved.

KQ has to wait for close to a year before all the paperwork can be put in order.

“For Kenya, the evaluation process will take up to eight months.” Kibe added.

The National carrier will also have to apply for traffic rights and negotiate for slots and schedules at the airports they seek to land and take-off from.

Kenya Airways was also cleared early this year  to begin direct flight between Nairobi and Victoria Falls.

KQ has already kicked off code sharing negotiations with its Skyteam Alliance partner and American carrier Delta Air Line, which could see it test the US airspace earlier as it awaits clearance by the FAA.

“Kenya Airways is currently fast tracking the commercial evaluations and discussions with the relevant authorities to determine the viability and timings of operations to the US,” corporate communications manager Wanjiku Mugo said.

She added; “When this is complete, we shall advise.”

Currently KQ has a fleet of 36 aircraft comprising of Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-700 and Embraer 190. It is banking on its Boeing 787- Dreamliner fleet to fly directly to the US from Nairobi.

Direct flights will be a major boost for trade and tourism.

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