Kenya Airways (KQ) has resumed direct daily flights to New York as it seeks to cash in on the summer season expected to push up demand for air travel.

The national carrier has been operating five daily flights on the US route since January when the demand for passengers was low as America entered into the winter season.

KQ says the decision to ramp up the frequencies has been informed by high forward booking from passengers seeking summer tickets.

“We have increased our frequencies to daily on the New York route because of high demand from passengers as we approach the summer season,” said the airline.

The move comes as a boost to the national carrier, which is fighting to fly out of the loss-making territory.

The daily flights to the US come at a time when Ethiopian Airlines-Africa’s largest carrier has expanded its flights to the US by adding another route to Atlanta, and reintroduction of the New York route via Abidjan, heightening competition on the route.

The Ethiopian carrier introduced four weekly flights on the Atlanta route last month, allowing passengers who want to fly directly to the city to avoid connecting through JFK International Airport in New York, where most airlines that have direct links with the US fly. The carrier first started serving New York from its main hub Addis Ababa via Abidjan in June 2019.

However, the route was suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19. Later, the flight resumed serving New York via Lomé starting in October 2020.

Atlanta is Ethiopian Airlines’ sixth destination in the US besides New York, Newark, Chicago, Washington DC and cargo service to Miami.

KQ has been struggling financially, making it rely on the Treasury for bailouts to remain afloat, with the government announcing recently it would stop funding the carrier.

The plan, if implemented, could save taxpayers billions of shillings spent annually to keep afloat the national carrier that last returned a profit in 2012.

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