The Kenya Airways Dreamliner B787 on touchdown at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) during the official reception in Nairobi
National Carrier, Kenya Airways on Saturday received its first of the nine Dreamliner aircraft it has ordered.
This ends a four-year delay in the delivery of the aircraft.
The modern aircraft touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 11 a.m. after a 16-hour direct flight from its manufacturing base in Seattle, USA.
The Dreamliner is 56.7 metres long, tail height 16.9 metres and wing span 60.1 metres and a passenger capacity of about 250. The air plane costs approximately Sh11 billion and flies at 43,000 feet for between 7,600 – 8,000 nautical miles without stopping.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was received at the airport by President Uhuru Kenyatta and is the first of the six to be delivered this year in a 10-year plan that seeks to sharpen Kenya Airways’ competitive edge on the global market by plying to destinations in Europe and Asia.
An additional five Dreamliners will be delivered each month from June until October to bring the number to six this year of the nine it has ordered as part of its long-haul fleet. All the nine Dreamliners were to be delivered before the end of this year but the remaining three will be delivered from 2015.
“We had planned to have this aircraft about three to four years ago but this delayed for a number of technical reasons with the manufacturing process but in the end, the dream has come to be true,” the airline’s chief executive officer Titus Naikuni said on Saturday.
Kenya becomes the second African country after Ethiopia to acquire the Dreamliner as it races to enhance its position as a leading airline on the continent. The first ever delivery of the aircraft was made to All Nippon Airways of Japan in September 2011.
The aircraft has been named the “Great Rift Valley”, after the geographical feature that runs across the East African region and is a key tourist attraction.
Speaking during the function, President Kenyatta said the delivery of the Dreamliner paves the way for Kenya Airways to further deepen trade connections with the world, especially through long haul flights.
“The Dreamliner has great national and continental significance. This aircraft will contribute greatly towards opening up Kenya and the continent at large for trade, tourism and other interactions with the rest of the world,” President Kenyatta said.
“We intend to begin flying to Paris, Beijing and Shanghai, in addition to increasing the frequency of our flights to Guangzhou,” Mr. Naikuni said. The airline will ply the Nairobi – Paris (France) route in June to mark its initial passenger service.
The Dreamliner can fly from Nairobi to Beijing non-stop and has superior performance while carrying more passengers and cargo to further distances.
It has the very latest features in aviation, design and technology and is touted to have a fuel efficiency of up to 20 per cent less than other long-haul aircraft.
The B787 is quieter, has lower cabin pressure, higher humidity levels and ambient mood lighting.
It has larger overhead bins and custom-made seats in Business and Economy class as well as cleaner air continuously circulating through an advanced filtration system.