The American government has given the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) Sh150 million in aid to secure the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ prepares to operate direct flights to the US from October.
The funds, according to outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, would go towards supporting passenger safety and enhancing Kenya’s aviation security standards to solidify its Category 1 status.
Mr Godec spoke Thursday in Nairobi when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, issued national carrier Kenya Airways the final permit to operate direct flights to New York.
“It will connect our people in a way that will help boost trade and cultural exchanges between the two countries,” Mr Godec said.
Speaking at ceremony, Transport secretary James Macharia said the flights will help boost Kenya’s agricultural exports to the US besides revamping the tourism sector.
“We have been exporting our flowers through Europe.
“They get there when they are of lower value. These new flights will reduce the time for exports thus allowing our produce to fetch better prices,” said Mr Macharia.
The Cabinet secretary said plans were in the pipeline to rehabilitate the JKIA to make it a “world class hub” and boost passengers from seven million to 12 million.
Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz said the plans to start operating cargo from December.
“There are a lot of preparations going on in terms of improving security and many other things in readiness,” he said.