The airline will begin flying its new aircraft non-stop three times a week between Nairobi and Guangzhou, China’s third largest city and a key hub of the country’s southern region.
The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft is expected to be delivered in mid-October and will commence revenue service in mid-November.
At the moment, Kenya Airways flies to Guangzhou via Bangkok, daily.
KQ Group Managing Director Titus Naikuni said that the new direct flights to Guangzhou would facilitate interaction between the two regions by opening up Africa to China through its robust connections from Nairobi. The airline flies to over 40 destinations in Africa.
“China has emerged as a key trading partner for Africa. Our direct flights to Guangzhou seek to build on this relationship in order to make a contribution towards sustainable development of Africa, which is in line with our core purpose as a company,” Naikuni added.
The direct flights will be operated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays departing from Nairobi just after midnight while maintaining the current flights to Guangzhou via Bangkok of four times a week.
The introduction of the direct flights to Guangzhou comes only days after Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta concluded a state visit in China during which the two countries signed financing deals to the tune of about Sh425 billion.
Meanwhile, Kenya Airways has made changes on its flights to Hong Kong whereby from October 2, 2013, the airline will only fly to Hong Kong via Bangkok three times a week, discontinuing the previous service through Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
KQ will in effect maintain daily frequencies to Bangkok from mid-November.
In 2012, the value of trade between China and Africa was estimated at US$200 billion. Besides trade, the interaction between China and Africa has been mainly through foreign direct investment and infrastructural development assistance.
A study conducted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2011 indicated that Chinese finance will be a significant source of capital for African countries.