Parliament has backed a Cabinet decision to amend the air services agreement between Kenya and America that will see Kenya Airways expand its route network beyond New York.
Kenya Airways is currently operating scheduled passenger air services between Nairobi and New York.
Kenya Airways inaugurated its new longest flight from Nairobi to New York in October 2018, becoming the first and only airline to connect East Africa and New York with a nonstop flight.
The ultra-long-haul service is operated by the airline’s newest widebody aircraft, the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner with a capacity of 234 seats for daily flight to New York., which Kenya uses as its primary long-haul aircraft after recently retiring its Boeing 777 fleet.
As of October last year, it had completed 594 flights to and from New York , flying at least 105,084 passengers.
On February 5, 2020 Kenya signed a new deal with the US proposing to revise an earlier agreement inked in Washington DC on June 8, 2008.
The pact will also allow national airlines such as Kenya Airways to access US routes and the American carriers to access the Kenyan market.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told MPs that no airline from the US is flying into Kenya.
He said ratification of the agreement will allow the Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) of the US which had expressed interest in starting cargo operations and establish a base in Kenya.
FedEx is seeking to establish an operation base at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
“It is in the interest of the country to ratify the agreement to allow the airlines to expand their route network and engage in commercial arrangements as well as create job opportunities,” Mr Macharia said in a memo.
Transport ministry said ratification of the agreement will enhance trade and commerce, tourism, market access and connectivity, investment interests and mutual cooperation between the two States.
The National Assembly’s Transport committee, in a report to the House said commencement of FedEx cargo operations and a base in Kenya would have a multiplier effect on the Kenyan economy as it will open up immense opportunities for Kenyans.
The team said the agreement will open expanded operations and markets for Kenya and US air operators, facilitate the movement of goods, passengers and mail, offering more flexibility in meeting demands and customer needs.
The committee resolved to recommend to the National Assembly to approve the ratification of the treaty as it is in Kenya’s best interest.