KQ reduces the number of direct flights to US, a fortnight after inaugural flight

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President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off the inaugural Kenya Airways (KQ) direct flight from Nairobi to New York.
President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off the inaugural Kenya Airways (KQ) direct flight from Nairobi to New York on October 28, 2018. PHOTO/COURTESY: PSCU

As the winter season enters its second month in America, Kenya Airways (KQ) has been forced to reduce the number of direct flights linking Nairobi to New York, the airline revealed on Tuesday.

According to KQ, a low demand for direct flights to New York has compelled the airline to reduce the frequency of the trips officially launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta a fortnight ago.

“The winter schedule for all our flights took effect from October 28, 2018 and will run until March 30, 2019… We cancel flights that are not commercially viable, so this is not unique to this route,” a KQ official is quoted as saying by the Business Daily.

As it stands, the airline has rescheduled a number of flights to the US that were planned to take place between November 2018 and March 2019. The airline further confirmed the rescheduling of ten flights programmed to take off between November 5, 2018 and December 5, 2018.

Despite backlash from Kenyans who asked why the numbers of flights had reduced so soon after the inaugural flight; the airline defended its decision stating that the move was in line with international policy and regulations.

“It is common practice to reduce frequencies, downgrade or even upgrade flights to balance costs and revenue. These 10 flights were identified at three weeks before the inaugural flight and travel agents plus guests were advised as per our flight cancellation procedures,” the official told the Business Daily.

Subsequently, the airline insisted that there would be no change in schedule for the unaffected months.

A direct air link with the United States will give Kenya increased access to the large US economy, the biggest in the world, as well as the entire North American region which will bolster trade and tourism in the region.

Before Kenya Airways got the green light to fly to New York, the Kenya Civil Airports Authority (KCAA) passed the International Civil Aviation Authority’s (ICAO) International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) run by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and got clearance from the FAA in 2017.

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