Prime Minister Raila Odinga said at a ceremony in Washington on Wednesday that a new US-Kenya Open Skies agreement will bring benefits for the country’s tourism, horticulture and business sectors.
Mr Odinga watched as the pact allowing direct flights between the two countries was formally signed by Kenya Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.
The Open Skies initiative will allow cut flowers and other Kenya products to reach the United States “within 24 hours of leaving the farms,” he said.
Kenya Airways hopes to take advantage of the agreement by starting direct flights between Nairobi and New York, Washington and Atlanta, Mr Odinga added. He noted that the time-saving flights will enable more Kenyans to do business in the US.
The agreement will also boost US tourism to Kenya, the Prime Minister said. Americans will no longer have to transit through Europe in order to fly to destinations in Kenya once direct flights start.
Delta Airlines, a US carrier, has announced it will begin flying to Nairobi next year.
At the signing ceremony at US Department of Transportation headquarters, Ms Peters passed her condolences to Mr Odinga on behalf of the families of two Kenyan ministers, who died in a plane crash earlier this month.
Both Mr Odinga and Ms Peters noted that flying remains one of the safest modes of transportation.