Kenya will know its fate on direct flights to the US next month as officials from America’s security agency will conduct an audit whose outcome will be key in determining whether the country will get the Last Point of Departure (LDP) status.
The officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct the audit at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport between May 21 and 25.
The audit will find out whether Kenya has addressed the issues raised by TSA last year in regard to security. Thee Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) was tasked to undertake some corrective measures.
“We expect the inspectors from America on May 21, 2018 to asses us. We are ready to receive them since we are ready to commence direct flights to John F Kennedy International Airport in New York on October 28, 2018,” KAA Managing Director Jonny Andersen told the committee on Equal Opportunity chaired by nominated MP Maina Kamanda on Tuesday.
He said they have dealt with all the issues that had been raised and are optimistic that they will pass the test.
“We are now ready for the audit as we have addressed all the areas that required correction,” he said.
Some of the issues that the management has addressed include provision of a proper perimeter fence and consistence at the security screening yard.
At the screening yard, KAA has removed National Youth Service personnel and the security checks are now done by the regular police and the General Service Unit officers.
The LPD status will allow not only Kenya Airways but any other airline that has been approved by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly directly to the US from Nairobi.
The national carrier received “exemption authority” from the DOT last year, allowing it to commence flights to the US provided it secures clearance from the FAA and other applicable State agencies.
JKIA was in February last year given Category One status after several audit processes by the US air agency- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that had seen Kenya fail to meet a number of reviews, delaying earlier commencement date of August 2016.
After getting LDP clearance, the last remaining thing will be the granting of Kenya Airways or any other airline an Air Operator Certificate by FAA after inspecting the carrier’s equipment and facilities, which is expected to be done this month.
The Kenya Airways announced that the airline will start flying directly to the US from Kenya in October, marking a milestone for the national carrier.
The move, industry experts have said, would cut flight time between the two cities by more than seven hours.
The trans-Atlantic flight is scheduled to depart JKIA at 10.30pm every day, a journey that will last 15 hours. This is a reduction from the current flight time of over 22 hours, including lengthy layovers.
Travellers to JFK will arrive at 6.30am, while the return flight from JKF will depart at 1.30pm and arrive in Nairobi at 10.30am the next day.
Each trip will have a maximum of 234 passengers — 204 in economy and the rest in business class of the national carrier’s Dreamliner aircraft.