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Delta Airlines and Kenya Airways are both keen on operating flights on the route, he added.
The government is counting on the support of three US business giants — Delta Airlines, Boeing and General Electric — to lobby for clearance and set in motion the process of launching the scheduled flights.
Cabinet secretary Michael Kamau said this Thursday as he revealed details of discussions with US regulators and firms during last week’s US-Africa summit which saw more than 40 African leaders hosted in Washington DC.
“We are working with them and regulators more closely this time around to secure all the requirements,” he said.
In 2009, Delta put off a plan to start direct flights between Atlanta and Nairobi, via Senegal, after the US government refused permission at the last-minute over security concerns.
Mr Kamau said the Kenya government had fruitful talks with the US Federal Aviation Authority and Transport Safety Authority about progress towards Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport attaining FAA’s Category One Status.
This is required of all airports before they can have direct flights into the US.
The FAA and TSA, he said, have been providing technical support towards JKIA achieving this and were “satisfied” with the enhanced security and other arrangements. Evaluation is scheduled for October, he added, saying JKIA was likely to attain the coveted status by early next year.
Kenyan representatives held meetings with Delta Airlines, Boeing and General Electric officials to help with the push for regulatory clearance. The firms are also expected to lobby for support from the Ex-Im Bank for financing of various projects related to transport infrastructure in Kenya.
Ex-Im bank has agreed to support General Electric with up to $400m (KShs35 billion) for commuter rail projects. Kamau also said there were fruitful discussions with American firms on security measures at entry ports.
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland