Kenya Airways will resume the New York flights this Saturday after a seven-month hiatus occasioned by Covid-19 as the airline opens up more routes following the resumption of the international flights in August.
Chief executive Allan Kilavuka said the carrier has so far recorded a 40 per cent cabin factor load in early bookings for the first trip to the US.
The New York route, which is exactly two years old, is a crucial destination for KQ as the carrier uses its hub at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to connect passengers to the US from other countries.
Kenya Airways had forecast its daily direct flights to the US, which it launched for the first time in October 2018, would boost annual revenues by more than 10 per cent in 2019 and 2020.
“We are resuming the New York route on 31st (Saturday) with the first flight so far recording a 40 per cent cabin load,” said Mr Kilavuka on Wednesday.
He said Kenya Airways remained fretful on the impact of US elections on the New York direct flights.
On November 3, Americans will head to the polls and send either Joe Biden or Donald Trump to the White House.
The carrier will initially operate two weekly flights (Wednesdays and Sundays) on the Nairobi-New York route before increasing the frequency to three times a week (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays).
KQ last month expanded its codeshare partnership with the US Delta Air Lines in preparation to the return of New York direct flights.
The extended partnership will link travelers on the direct flights to three new points including the cities of Dallas, Washington DC and San Francisco.
The codeshare offers a one-stop option for travelers from Kenya to other regions in North America.
The direct flights to the US cut the journey to 15 hours and passengers are no longer required to take long layovers in other airports before proceeding to the US.
As of October last year, KQ had completed 594 flights to and from New York, flying at least 105,084 passengers.
The airline had deployed a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet with a capacity of 234 seats for daily flight to New York.
The national carrier suspended all its operations in March after the government closed the country’s airspace in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak in Kenya and other parts of the world.