Kenya Airways is eyeing ticket sales to US government-funded travellers once it signs a code-sharing agreement with American airline, Delta Airways.
The national carrier last week started booking passengers on its inaugural direct flight to the United States, which is expected to take off on October 28.
The code-sharing agreement with Delta is expected to be in place at the beginning of next year and it will see KQ enter a club of airlines which can fly passengers whose trips have been funded by the United States federal government.
KQ expects that this status, in addition to access to Delta’s dense network in the United States, will boost passenger numbers on the new route.
“Obviously in 2019 once we have the code-share we will get more traffic… and particularly if we code share with Delta it means that US authorities can travel on KQ,” said the airline’s chairman, Michael Joseph.
Under the Fly America Act, people travelling under the federal government must fly with an American-owned airline, no matter the extra cost or inconvenience to the passenger.
There are exceptions to this rule, including cases where using a US carrier would extend travel time by over 24 hours.
Additionally, passengers are allowed to fly on a craft operated by foreign airlines that have code-sharing agreements with American companies.
KQ had said that it preferred to operate on the American route in partnership with Delta Airlines. Both airlines are members of the SkyTeam airline alliance.
However, the code-sharing agreement with Delta was put off by at least a year as the American carrier is negotiating a separate and complicated agreement with Virgin Atlantic and KLM Air France.
The Kenya Airways is flying to New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.
The Nairobi-New York flight is the only non-stop, direct flight between East Africa and the United States.
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