The inaugural flight to the Indian capital was to depart from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 1350hrs with a high-powered team led by the chairman of the airline’s board of directors Evanson Mwaniki on board.
New Delhi is now the airline’s 57th destination, the latest since the airline launched flights to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in October last year. It will also be the second destination that Kenya Airways flies to in the Indian sub-continent, the other being Mumbai.
Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO, Titus Naikuni said that the new route would enhance the airline’s presence in Asia.
“We are growing our presence in the Asian continent. Our decision to fly to New Delhi is informed by the growing economic linkages between Asia and Africa,” said Dr Naikuni, noting that India and China are of special importance to the airline’s growth strategy.
He added: “KQ will be flying to New Delhi four times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I encourage Africa to take advantage of this new service which has good connections to Intra-Africa flights.”
On Monday evening, Kenya Airways hosted its partners and key personalities in business and diplomatic circles to a cocktail function in Nairobi.
Speaking at the ceremony, India’s High Commissioner to Kenya Sibabrata Tripathi said that the new route signified the growing ties between Kenya and the Asian economic giant. “Kenya remains an important partner of India in Africa. The opening of the New Delhi route will contribute to strengthening the bond of amity that has long existed between both countries,” said Tripathi.
Kenya Airways Board Chairman Evanson Mwaniki noted that India was central to the airline’s bid to consolidate its presence in the Asian market. “With the emergence of India as a global economic powerhouse especially in the areas of technology and innovation, the strategic importance of India to Kenya and the rest of Africa will strengthen,” noted Mwaniki.
India is significant to Kenya given the two countries’ long-standing relations dating back several centuries. Trade between the two countries stands at about $2.5 billion annually. India is also emerging as an important source market for Kenya’s tourism market. Besides trade, thousands of Kenyans have studied in India.