Kenya Airways became the fourth African airline to directly fly to the United States with the maiden flight to New York on Sunday night.
The national carrier now joins neighbouring Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Egypt Air as the only African airlines with direct access to the world’s biggest economy and largest market for African products.
The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner 15-hour flight to complete a 11,849 kilometre journey between Nairobi and New York marked the start of the second national carrier from East Africa to directly fly to the US.
The 234-capacity plane is also in use by the Moroccan and Ethiopian national carriers.
Ethiopia Airlines is currently flying to four cities in the US, after it started the three-time a week flights to Chicago in June. The others are Washington DC, Los Angeles and Toronto.
The carrier flies daily to Washington DC using the Boeing 777-200LR, the larger version of 787-8 Dreamliner.
It has a capacity of 321 passengers, 34 in Business Class and 287 in Economy. Currently, five of them are in service by Ethiopian Air.
Ethiopian Airlines acquired its 100 aircraft in June setting the stage for continental airlines to increase the connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world.
South African Airways (SAA) flies directly to Washington DC and New York every day, using Airbus 330-300 jetliner. The model has a two-class cabin layout with 46 seats in business class and 203 in the economy section. The flight to Washington DC however involves a stop-over for refuelling in the Senegalese capital of Dakar or Accra in Ghana.
Cape Verde national carrier, Cabo Verde Airlines, flies once a week from Boston and the island’s capital of Praia.
In North Africa, Royal Air Maroc and EgyptAir directly to the US-cities of New York and Washington DC. The Moroccan carrier uses Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner that have a capacity of 274 passengers for the long-haul direct flights to Washington DC.
It flies three times a week between Casablanca and the US capital. EgyptAir flies daily between Cairo and New York and is set to acquire its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet by the end of the first quarter of 2019.