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Delta to jet out in June

NAIROBI, November 18 – Preparations for the launch of the maiden direct flight from Kenya to the United States of America are on going, officials from Delta Airlines have confirmed.

The airline’s Kenya Marketing Officer Jane Mwangi told Capital Business that training of the sales and ticketing officers was complete in readiness for the launch on June 3 next year.

“We are soon going to post our departure and arrival schedules on the specific days that we will be operating the flights,” she revealed adding that they would initially be flying four-times per week.

The Kenya office was opened in August this year and Ms Mwangi said they have been receiving many inquiries about the service.

Last week, the US carriers announced that it would introduce direct flights between Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with a one-hour stop over at Dakar, Senegal.

Delta postponed the launch of its services, which were scheduled to start in December 2008 due to the market conditions that prevailed in the country during the first three months of the year and the continued increase in fuel prices.

“Now that the market has stabilized and fuel prices have returned to forecasted levels we are able to continue with our planned African expansions,” she added.

Ms Mwangi said their passenger and load factor predictions looked positive and that the route would boost commercial activities and tourism between Kenya and the USA.

“Our research has shown that there is much demand for this service. Additionally, Atlanta provides unrivalled connectivity for passengers and cargo to the US as well as Latin America and Caribbean,” Mwangi said adding that the hub provides around 150 business and leisure destinations throughout the region.

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While acknowledging that the current financial crunch would initially affect the number of passengers that they would carry in the first few months after the introduction of their service, she   said they hoped that the situation would improve.

The airline however disclosed that it was working to diversify its routes across the globe so as to weather any economic storm.

“By the end of 2009, Delta expects to increase the percentage of revenues generated from international flights to about 50 percent of our total revenues,” a statement from the carrier’s Commercial Manager for West and East Africa Bobby Bryan said.

Mr Bryan said they were also planning to expand into other African routes which would see them launching services from Liberia to Atlanta via Cape Verde as well as non stop flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta.

He explained that by summer 2009, Delta would be operating in 12 cities in 10 African countries from North, East, South and West Africa and the United States.

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