Kenyan national flag carrier Kenya Airways has reduced the number of flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) to once a week, citing low demand. The SkyTeam alliance members Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Allan Kilavuka said the airline was forced to reduce the two flights per week as previously planned after demand on the route dropped.
When the airline resumed flights from Nairobi to New York with its flagship Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in November, it was envisioned that demand on the route would be sufficient to support two flights per week. Unfortunately, the market was not there due to a reduction in the number of people traveling brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenya Airways blames COVID-19
The airline executive attributed the decline in passenger numbers due to strict COVID-19 protocols brought about by several counties to stop the coronavirus from spreading.
While speaking to the business reporter for Nairobi’s Kawah Tungu about the decision Kenya Airways Kilavuka said:
“As Kenya Airways, we have responded to this by reducing capacity deployment in some key markets such as the UK and the US. We have reduced our operations to JFK from the planned twice weekly to once weekly, and we continue to monitor the situation.”
Regarding COVID-19 protocols for people wishing to enter the United States, all travelers aged two and older are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within three days of travel or proof that they have had the coronavirus and made a recovery.
Flights to New York resumed in November
Kenya Airways resumed its service to New York City after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted a ban on international travel on November 29, 2020. A month earlier, Kenya Airways had already suspended the idea of resuming flights to the United States, citing booking cancelations as the reason.
Kenya Airways first launched direct non-stop flights to the United States in October 2018. At the time, they were operating five flights a week to New York’s JFK from Nairobi’s NBO. Again citing low passenger demand Kenya Airways was forced to suspend flights to France’s Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CGD) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) in the Netherlands.
Flight to AMS and CDG will resume in March
“The temporary suspension is due to the new COVID-19 regulations in Europe that have resulted in depressed demand,” the airline said. Kenya Airways says that it expects to resume flight to France on March 3 and the Netherlands on March 7.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
With the demand in passenger travel well down on levels seen in 2019, many airlines have started converting passenger aircraft into cargo planes that will be used to transport PPE and COVID-19 vaccines.
Have you ever flown on a Kenya Airways flight between Nairobi and New York? If so, please tell us what it was like in the comments.