The dream is here. msafiri Editor-at-large, Jackson Biko, witnessed one of Kenya Airways’ greatest moments as its first Dreamliner B-787 landed in Nairobi
It was all joy and ululation as the long-awaited and much hyped Dreamliner 787 landed, for the first time, at JKIA on 5 April 2014, at precisely 11.34am. Waiting to receive this innovative Kenya Airways’ plane were Kenya Airways staff, stakeholders and a gaggle of both local and international media personnel. The B-787, called ‘The Great Rift Valley’, had departed Seattle in the US for a 16-hour non-stop flight to JKIA, Nairobi.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud of Somalia and top government officials graced the receiving ceremony.
Almost an hour after its touchdown, Kenya Airways’ Group Managing Director and CEO Dr Titus Naikuni emerged from the plane and strode down to the tarmac, where he handed President Uhuru a Kenyan flag amid loud cheers and rousing music.
This inaugural flight carried less than 60 passengers, consisting of Kenya Airways crew and distinguished guests picked from various industries. The acquisition of this Dreamliner 787 is part of Kenya Airways’ ten-year fleet renewal business plan named ‘Project Mawingu’.
Speaking during the ceremony, President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed the importance of this growth as a direct gain to tourism.
“The contribution of our national carrier in facilitation of the growth [of tourism] will be crucial. In the 2012/2013 financial year 1.16 million tourists visited the country, earning us over Ksh96 billion, but with the ongoing investments by our tourism stakeholders our target is to grow this industry to the tune of three million visitors per year over the next three years.”
The President assured Kenya Airways of his continued support and commitment to its expansion plans and the realisation of its dreams.
The new Dreamliner, KQ says, will form the backbone of its long-haul fleet. The plane will initially ply the African destinations before it starts flying its Nairobi-Paris route in June. Eight more Dreamliners are currently on order.
Evans Mwaniki, Kenya Airways’ Chairman, urged the president to help quicken the signing of bilateral agreements with partners in destinations that KQ plies and likewise outstanding double-taxation and VAT refunds.
A clearly jubilant Dr Naikuni called the event “our moment of pride” and urged all present to support the national carrier in its quest for success within and beyond its borders. “Your success is our success,” he said, “and we never take that for granted.”