, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – Delta Air Lines which is set to launch direct flights between Kenya and the United States, has expressed optimism that the Nairobi route will be one of its most lucrative destinations upon the commencement of operations on June 3.
The airline’s Commercial Manager for West and East Africa Bobby Bryan told a media briefing that they are keen on exploiting the strong passenger and cargo opportunities that the Kenyan market has exhibited and was hopeful that they would break even soon.
“We expect to have very positive results and revenue flows after our initial start although I can’t give the precise figures but we anticipate that the Nairobi route will be one of the most successful routes we have,” he said.
Delta will be the only carrier to fly directly to the USA (from Kenya) with a one and a half hour stop over in Dakar, Senegal. No transit visas will be required for passengers as they will not get off the plane and this is expected to play to their advantage.
Mr Bryan said they projected growth in the leisure and business traffic particularly from the East African market, adding that this was a good way of beating the effects of the on-going global economic slump on the aviation industry.
“Even though there is a global recession, this is a perfect time for us to come in in a strong market like in this area,” he said in reference to the East African market.
On Monday, the airline received the green light to go ahead with its inaugural flight after the US Department of Homeland Security gave the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) a clean bill of health on security.
There were fears that Delta would delay the introduction of its flight schedule as the civil aviation operations at the JKIA had not complied with the highest international standards.
At a press conference, Mr Bryan however assured that all is set for the maiden flight in the next few weeks.
“We are very confident that we will start our flights on June 3rd from Nairobi to Atlanta and we anticipate doing so on time,” he stated.
He also disclosed that they would be partnering with Kenya Airways, which would handle the ground operations for them and also connect Delta passengers through Nairobi to other destinations across East Africa.
Despite being a new entrant in a competitive local market, Mr Bryan vowed they would be very strong through offering reasonable fares, four weekly non-stop services between Kenya and Senegal and over 150 onward connections from Atlanta to other US destinations, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Introductory fares are $1789 (inclusive of taxes) and are available for purchase until May 29.
During the press conference, the airline announced the appointment of the Delta sales team and station manager for its Kenyan operations as part of its continued growth of its international network and expansion into the East African market.
The carrier operates from nine cities in seven African countries including Cairo, Accra, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Lagos.