It was a historic moment on Sunday night as Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off Kenya Airways’ maiden direct flight to New York.

The President flagged off a KQ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner carrying 234 passengers from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport destined for New York’s JFK International Airport.

According to, the long-haul flight will last 15 hours, reducing the journey by over 7 hours.

Among the passengers on the maiden flight from Nairobi to New York were Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amb. Monica Juma and US Ambassador Robert Godec.

Kenya Airways is the first airline in East Africa to have a direct flight to the USA.

Other countries with direct flights from Africa include: South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Senegal and Morocco.

The flagging off ceremony was also attended by Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang’i (Interior), Adan Mohamed (Industrialization) Sicily Kariuki (Health), Margaret Kobia (Public Service), Amina Mohamed (Education), Rashid Echesa (Sports), Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture) and Ukur Yattani (Labour).

The inaugural flight to New York is a major milestone for Kenya’s aviation sector especially for the numerous economic opportunities in sectors such as tourism and trade.

A direct air link with the United States will give Kenya increased access to the large US economy, the biggest in the world, as well as the entire North American region.

JKIA is already one Africa’s busiest air transport hubs in Africa, and the launch of direct flights to New York is expected to elevate its importance and cement Nairobi’s position as one of Africa’s biggest economic movers.

Kenya Airways already serves at least 40 destinations in Africa alone and also flies to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Sub Continent.