Will Kenya Airways Finally Fly to Israel in 2019?  13th Jun 2018

Reports have emerged that Kenya Airways could finally launch the much awaited weekly flights to Israel’s capital Tel Aviv in early 2019.

An Israeli Newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth has reported that the airline’s CEO Sebastian Mikosz met with the Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to discuss moving forward with the plan.

However, before this could happen Kenya Airways will have to secure permission from the Sudanese government to allow the airline overfly its airspace.  “Last month, representatives from the airline visited Israel, where they held a series of meetings with officials in the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airports Authority to discuss the implications of launching the new flight route,” said the paper.

The request, submitted by Kenya Airways, comes weeks after Saudi Arabia granted permission for the first time to Air India to use its airspace for a commercial flight route to Israel. The first Air India Boeing 787 touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport on March 22.

Minister Katz expressed his support for the move. “There is a great deal of political and tourist importance in the African market. The Open Skies agreement has a broad impact on the development on flight routes to Europe and to east Africa,” he said.

“Opening the skies is a growth engine for the Israeli aviation market. The increase in the supply of flights to Israel continues, as do the number of direct flight routes to Israel operated by airlines,” Katz continued. 

It is not the first time that reports have emerged of the impending direct flights between Kenya and Israel. In 2016, after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s official visit to Israel, the then Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amb. Amina Mohammed announced that Israeli airline Arkia was planning to launch direct flights between Nairobi and Tel Aviv in August 2016 after the two countries had agreed to open the air transport corridor. It was then said that the pact would clear the way for Kenya Airways direct flights.

The plans were however derailed by the financial turmoil KQ underwent at the time. Kenyan Ambassador to Israel Mr. Agostino Njoroge told a local daily that “We had gotten the green-light for direct flights and were ready to fly but until KQ can get its act together then we will be able to see if it can pick up.”

Israel cancelled direct flights to Kenya in 2002 following a terror attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Kikambala and an airplane belonging to the country’s airline.

According to the CEO of KATA Nicanor Sabula, the launch of the direct flights between the two countries is likely to boost trade and travel between the two countries with official data showing Kenya exports to Israel standing at Ksh. 1.4billion with exports at 10.4 billion in 2015. Israel remains a popular destination for many religious groups in Kenya that visits its various sites for pilgrimage.

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