As I write this, I am preparing to embark on my mission to New York.
But this is not just another mission for my line of responsibility. I will be on a historic mission. One that marks a new beginning in Kenya’s aviation industry; one that opens new horizons for Kenya’s trade and investment; one that opens the way for enhanced people-to-people relations, between Kenya and the United State of America.
Today, the 28th October 2018, I will board KQ 002, the maiden Kenya Airways flight, from the iconic Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), at 22:45 for a 14-hour direct trip flight landing at the John F. Kennedy International Airport at 06.45 on Monday morning, 29th October 2018.
This inaugural flight comes after several years of intense negotiations and efforts that have seen significant re-engineering of the JKIA – pushing it to an international status comparable to any top aviation hub in the world.
Coming in 2018, the inaugural flight is a first mover in the pursuit of Africa’s integration and fusion with the global market.
Kenya Airways will be connecting 10 passenger and cargo source countries from Africa directly to the western hemisphere from JFK.
Other than reaffirm the status of JKIA as hub, this flight, which will fly daily both ways, makes Kenya a firm bridge between Africa and the rest of the World.
Kenya Airways will be joining four other sub-Saharan Africa countries that fly directly to the US, namely South Africa, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Ghana and Nigeria.
Tonight as we take off, I foresee numerous opportunities that are offered by the Kenya Airways flight: it is cost effective in terms of time and cost; but it offers a connectivity to the western hemisphere that will encourage larger volumes of goods, and number of people – of configurations – students, tourists, traders, investors to engage with one another from across the Atlantic.
There would not have been a better time for this historic development – than now when Africa is in the process of processing the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).
Undoubtedly, in serving Africa in this manner, Kenya Airways will be answering to its mantra of being – THE PRIDE OF AFRICA.
(The writer is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Kenya and is leading the delegation to New York)