What you need to know:
- Last Wednesday, Kenya Airways marked five years of flying directly to New York City, with a ceremony on Terminal Four at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and aboard the flight to Nairobi. James Mwamba, who travelled on the direct flight to cover the 2023 New York City Marathon for Nation Sport, talked to Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka afterwards.
The launch of direct flights between Nairobi and New York City by Kenya Airways means Kenyan athletes are spared multiple connections and unnecessary fatigue as they travel to the USA to compete in New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon, and Chicago Marathon.
Last Wednesday, Kenya Airways marked five years of flying directly to New York City, with a ceremony on Terminal Four at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and aboard the flight to Nairobi. James Mwamba, who travelled on the direct flight to cover the 2023 New York City Marathon for Nation Sport, talked to Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka afterwards.
Q. In what ways has the direct flight to New York by Kenya Airways made life easier for Kenyan athletes competing in races in the USA such as the New York City Marathon?
A. The route provides direct access to athletes travelling for various sporting activities. Time is of the essence for athletes, and they need to arrive fresh. Before the introduction of the direct flight, customers had to make multiple connections of nearly more than 18 hours to get to the United States of America, but now the direct flight provides convenience.
The partnership with Delta Airlines also helps athletes travelling from Kenya to different states in the USA for marathons such as the World Marathon Majors in the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon.
Q. Kenya Airways does not fly direct to Boston or Chicago which have athletics races popular with Kenyans (Boston Marathon and Chicago Marathon). What arrangements are there to make it easier for Kenyans travelling to these destinations? Are there plans for direct flights to these destinations?
A. No plans at the moment. However, we have a partnership with Delta to connect Kenya to over 57 cities across the U.S. and Canada. This has made it much easier for guests travelling from Kenya to different parts of the US. Athletes travelling for these two marathon races have an easier connection through Kenya Airways and Delta.
Q. As Kenya Airways marks five years since the inaugural direct flight to New York, what milestones has the company achieved on the route? How many passengers, and tonnes of cargo, have you ferried to New York and vice versa?
A. Over the last five years, we have airlifted over 300,000 passengers and 6,000 tonnes of cargo on approximately 1,700 flights.
Q. Which Kenyan athletes are Kenya Airways’ frequent fliers?
A. We airlift athletes from Kenya to various destinations around the world. Unfortunately, we can’t divulge that information as it is private passenger information.
Q. Kenya Airways has had solid partnerships with Kenyan sports federations, notably being main sponsor of the Kenya Sevens rugby team which won the 2006 Singapore Sevens. KQ flew the team and the trophy to Nairobi. How did that make you feel?
A. We were extremely proud of such a great achievement by our rugby team. Our commitment to sports dates back to the 1990s and exemplifies our spirit in uplifting sportsmanship, our culture, and our heritage to the rest of the world through sports.
Q. Should we expect more of such sports partnerships with local teams and sports federations as the one between Kenya Rugby Union and Kenya Airways?
A. We are currently working to stabilise our business and turn around our financial position. Once we are in a better place, we will be able to consider more of such partnerships.
Q. Does Kenya Airways have plans for varied products targeting the sports sector?
A. There are opportunities for us to partner to promote Kenya through sports. As the Pride of Africa, our sports sponsorship portfolio is borne out of the acknowledgement and need to harness the country’s rich sporting talent. When approached, we have and are always offering certain discounts to our sportsmen going to represent the country abroad. For now, we are focused on stabilising the business to enable us support such partnerships more.