Direct Flights From Kenya Means Direct Shipments From Flower Farms

Image courtesy of Muffet

Until now, airlines couldn’t have direct flights from Kenya to the United States: Travelers had to change planes in a third country because Kenya’s biggest airport didn’t meet the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s safety and security standards to send planes here directly. Now non-stop flights are beginning, and that means direct shipments of fresh vegetables and flowers.

Aviation officials in Kenya are very proud that the FAA has given Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Category 1 safety and security status after recent upgrades. U.S. airlines will be able to establish flights first, and national carrier Kenya Airways is applying for both codesharing and the ability to fly its own routes across the Atlantic.

The country also exports fresh vegetables, but Kenyan flowers are a big business. We already have some fresh flowers grown there for sale here, but you wouldn’t know it, since they aren’t shipped directly. Instead, they’re sold in wholesale flower auctions and repackaged in Europe, then re-exported here. They could be part of any bouquet that you pick up at the store or order.

A horticulture official in Kenya told Bloomberg News that while the flowers passing through Europe make money, they don’t help establish the reputation and brand of Kenyan flowers in the United States. “We need to create a link between our producers and the clients on the other side and take the opportunity brought by the shortened distance and the reduced cost,” he said.

Americans know the reputation of coffee from Kenya, but not necessarily their flowers. Maybe that will change with these non-stop flights.