Kenya Airways (KQ) and JetBlue Airways have signed an interline agreement set to boost connectivity between the carriers ahead of the upcoming summer season.
Passengers will gain wider access to destinations served by both carriers. This includes non-stop flights from New York to Nairobi via Kenya Airways, and connectivity between Minneapolis, St. Paul Airport and New York.
JetBlue Airways passengers will have a wider choice of African destinations via Kenya Airways’ network. Likewise, passengers traveling from Nairobi to New York will have access to JetBlue’s (JBLU) network.
“The agreement will increase the choice of destinations offered by Kenya Airways in Africa and extend Kenya Airways’ reach in the US, Caribbean, and Latin America via New York,” reported local newspaper, Mshale.
The aim of the agreement between KQ and JetBlue (JBLU) is to offer greater convenience to passengers traveling between New York and Nairobi, which has been previously connected via European airports.
“The local businesses and the Kenyan community are hoping the easier connection via JetBlue (JBLU) will provide the much-needed convenience and will in turn create a surge of passengers on the KQ New York – Nairobi flight from passengers hoping to bypass the traditional Europe connection,” Mshale’s report added.
Stephen Ngamau, Kenya Airways General Manager for the Americas adds that the airline is particularly keen on addressing the growing need for easier travel between Kenya and the Midwest.
“Kenya Airways’ attraction to Minnesota is the large Kenyan community and growing business ties between Kenya and the Midwest. Since our launch, we have fielded many calls and emails from Kenyans in Minnesota requesting for us to make it easier for them to get on the KQ New York flight,” Ngamau said.
Kenya Airways Chief Commercial and Customer Officer, Julius Thairu, said: “We are constantly looking for new ways and partnerships that will offer our customers more choice and value. Kenya Airways customers flying to New York will now be able to connect with JetBlue (JBLU)-operated flights to Minneapolis, Boston, Vancouver, Cancun, and San Juan, among others. The partnership will also allow JetBlue (JBLU) passengers to book a through ticket to Nairobi and enjoy seamless connections to the rest of KQ’s destinations.”
Behind KQ’s Nairobi – New York pair
Kenya Airways has had its eye on the Nairobi – New York pair for some time now. The carrier inaugurated direct flights to New York in October 2018, with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, cutting the total flight time to 15 hours.
By October 2019, KQ had completed 594 flights to and from New York, and carried around 105,084 passengers, according to Nairobi News.
However, in March 2020, operations on the route were ceased due to the closure of Kenya’s airspace by the Kenyan Government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenya’s airspace reopened in August 2020 and KQ recommenced its direct flights to New York from its Nairobi hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in late October 2020.
Kenya Airways recorded KSh4.5 billion ($38.8 million) in revenue on the American route in 2021, doubling its earnings of KSh2.3 billion ($19.8 million) in 2020, according to a report by Business Daily Africa and a signed financial statement included in Kenya Airways annual report for the year ended December 31, 2021.