The flag carrier of Kenya, Kenya Airways, is set to resume its newest long-distance route from the East African nation to New York City. This service was suspended due to the global health crisis and has not been offered in the last seven months. As with all of the airline’s long-haul destinations, the Boeing 787-8 will operate the service.
According to FlightRadar24.com, the first flight from Nairobi to New York will occur on October 31st as flight KQ2. Its scheduled time of departure is 23:25, while the flight is scheduled to arrive at 06:25 the next day. This means the total travel time for the outbound service is 15 hours.
The return journey, flight KQ3, will leave New York at 13:45 and arrive in Nairobi the next day, at 10:30. The total scheduled flight time then is just under 13 hours.
It should be noted that STA (scheduled time of arrival) varies depending on dates. Some have flight KQ2 arriving at 07:25 and KQ3 arriving at 11:30, theoretically giving an additional hour in the air (or buffer time). With the United States’ Daylight Savings Time adjustment taking place on November 1st this year, the schedule changes seem to be unrelated.
All times listed above are local.
According to Business Daily Africa, the carrier will initially operate just two weekly flights on this Nairobi-New York route. They will depart Nairobi on Wednesdays and Sundays. Eventually, the airline will increase the frequency to three times a week, leaving Nairobi on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
The flight will utilize Kenya’s flagship aircraft, the Boeing 787-8. These jets are configured to have 30 business class seats and 204 seats in the economy cabin. Typically these jets fly to other long-haul destinations offered by the carrier, including London, Amsterdam, and Guangzhou.
A low-load factor so far
With about a day to go before this first flight, load factors aren’t great. Of course, this isn’t much of a surprise given the current global health crisis and the huge drop in travel demand.
According to Business Daily Africa, Chief executive Allan Kilavuka reported on Wednesday that the airline has a 40% load factor in early bookings for this first trip to the US. It’s unlikely that the number would have spiked since the figure was reported. However, this should be welcomed by passengers booked on the flight as everyone onboard would have more space to stretch out.
Kilavuka also told the website that Kenya Airways remains concerned regarding the impact of US elections on the New York direct flights.
The wait is finally over. It's our pleasure to resume international flights after a hiatus of four long months. From all of us at Kenya Airways – thank you and welcome back ✈️ #KQClearForTakeOff @KenyaAirports @CAA_Kenya @magicalkenya @MakeItKenya @FPEAK_ @kenyaflower pic.twitter.com/6zEEhVvZgK
— Kenya Airways (@KenyaAirways) August 1, 2020
A gateway to North America and Africa
This Nairobi-New York service will serve as the respective gateways to North America and Africa. Last month the airline expanded its codeshare partnership with US carrier and fellow SkyTeam member, Delta Air Lines, in advance of the New York service resumption.
The extended partnership will provide travelers easier connection to three US destinations: Dallas, Washington DC, and San Francisco.
On the other side of the Atlantic, travelers flying from New York JFK will be able to access many East African destinations with a single stop in Nairobi. Therefore, this service competes a little bit with the major African airline that is Ethiopian.
The service resumption should also contribute some much-needed cargo capacity between the two continents.
Do you think this latest service resumption will be profitable for Kenya Airways? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.