Kenya will now have direct flights to the United States after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgraded the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to the much coveted Category 1 status.
Transport cabinet secretary, James Macharia has welcomed the milestone saying it’s a major boost to the country’s civil aviation.
“Getting the Category One status for us is a major milestone in the growth and development of civil aviation in Kenya, East Africa and rest of Africa,” said Transport minister James Macharia.
FAA gave the nod after a series of an audit, bringing to an end Kenya’s long quest for JKIA to be granted the category 1 status. Prior to the recent development, Kenya had tried twice and failed; scoring 66 percent and 78.42 in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Last September JKIA scored 88 per cent.
To pass the mark, an airport has to score more than 80 per cent during an annual assessment by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Kenya had embarked on a Sh6.4 billion upgrade of the airport with the government setting itself a May 2016 deadline to complete the conditions set for approval of flights between Kenya and the US. Some of the requirements include; enhancing security, separation of passenger arrival and departure terminals, clearing the flight path and fencing off the airport.
The opening of two terminals at the (JKIA) last year and the introduction of the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill 2015 played a key role in boosting JKIA’s profile in line with requisite conditions for approval of direct flights between Kenya and the US.
“Kenya has invested in the expansion of airport infrastructure in particular at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which now boasts a new Terminal 1A both for arrivals and departures, and we are in the process of making further improvements to other terminals,” said Mr Macharia.
The East African country now joins Morocco, Cape Verde, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa as the only countries in Africa with direct flights to the US.