LONDON – Kenya Airways marked a major milestone in its history with the first non-stop flight from East Africa to New York (JFK). The flight from Nairobi landed in JFK at 06:55 on October 29. The outbound flight departed at 13:00.

The nonstop flight from Kenya to the U.S is a “confidence boost to the economic well-being of the country and a positive signal for increased foreign direct investment”, the carrier said in a statement.

Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz said that this flight will “act as a catalyst for attracting corporate and high-end tourism traffic around the world to Kenya and Africa”.

The flight duration was 15 hours eastbound and 14 hours westbound, with Captain Joseph Kinuthia leading a flight crew of four pilots and 12 flight attendants.

Source: Flightaware

“It has been 14 hours and 50 minutes of excitement,” Foreign Secretary Monica Juma said. “Flying into New York this morning, we were welcomed by water cannons – and that was quite nice.”

The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was the equipment of choice for the inaugural and also for the operation as a whole, carrying 234 passengers per flight.

Out of the 234 seats, 30 are in Premier World in a 2-2-2 configuration and 204 are in Economy in a 3-3-3 configuration. 

On a timetable basis, the route will operate daily, departing Nairobi at 23:25, arriving into JFK at 06:25 the following day. The return will then depart at 12:00, landing into Nairobi at 10:30 the next day.

The new flight will open up more business opportunities for both the US and Kenya. 

The US Ambassador in Kenya, Robert Godec, said that “this flight is going to make new things possible — new business deals, new trade, new investment, more opportunities for students to come from the United States to Kenya, and Kenya to the United States.”

This is a significant achievement for African aviation. It is the first step of many that will could potentially make areas like Kenya the aviation gateways of Africa.