National carrier Kenya Airways will start weekly flights to Tel Aviv in March next year, the Star can confirm.
Israel spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said discussions between Nairobi and Tel Aviv have been concluded and it is now up to KQ to decide when to start.
“There is a great deal of political and tourist importance in the African market. The entry of Kenya Airways into Israel will further improve ties with Kenya and Africa in general,” he told the Star in an interview yesterday.
The launch of direct flights between the two countries will boost trade and travel between the two countries with official data showing Kenya exports to Israel at Sh10.4 billion in 2015. Israel remains a popular destination for many religious groups in Kenya that visit various sites for pilgrimage.
CEO Sebastian Mikosz was in Israel in June where he, among other people, met with the Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to discuss the plan.
The airliner will also have to secure permission from the Sudanese government to allow the airline overfly its airspace. KQ officials, officials from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airports Authority who visited Israel also held a series of meetings to discuss with their counterparts in Tel Aviv on what needs to be done and the implications of launching the new flight route
They said Tel Aviv flights to Nairobi or Mombasa will only resume after Kenya improves security and upgrades surveillance at major airports. However, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director general Gilbert Kibe said all security conditions have been met, hence the reason KQ has been cleared for direct flights to USA.
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.
Their national airline Arkia will launch direct flights between Nairobi and Tel Aviv next year. Arkia’s twin destinations in Africa are Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar in Tanzania. The promise to restart direct flights was made in July last year when their PM visited Kenya.