Kenya Airways took delivery of the national flag-carrier’s first 787 Dreamliner on Friday, flying it away from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., in front of airline and Commercial Airplanes employees on hand to celebrate.
The airplane departed the airport for a 7,800-nautical-mile (14,460-kilometer), nonstop flight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya Airways’ home base in Nairobi.
“The delivery of our first-ever 787 Dreamliner opens a new chapter for not only our airline but also for Kenya,” said Titus Naikuni, CEO of Kenya Airways. ”The 787 will enable Kenya Airways to explore new markets, improve its economic performance, provide passengers with revolutionary comfort while continuing to contribute toward the sustainable development of Africa.”
The delivery is the first of nine 787 Dreamliners set to join Kenya Airways’ fleet. The deliveries of additional 787s, along with 777-300ER (Extended Range) airplanes, forms part of the East African carrier’s 10-year strategic plan called “Project Mawingu.” The plan is focused on expanding the airline’s fleet size from 44 airplanes to 107 by 2021 and increasing its destinations from 62 to 115. Currently, the Nairobi-based carrier operates an all-Boeing long-haul fleet of six 767-300ERs, four 777-200ERs and one 777-300ER.
“The 787 provides carriers with the flexibility to expand their networks and reduce operating costs while offering passengers an unsurpassed in-flight experience,” said Commercial Airplanes’ Van Rex Gallard, vice president of sales for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. “The 787 will be an outstanding addition to Kenya Airways’ fleet, providing the cornerstone of the airline’s future success and enabling it to continue its mission to connect Africa to the world, and the world to Africa.”
Kenya Airways’ first 787 is scheduled to begin flying regionally within Africa in the coming weeks before beginning long-haul service to Paris in early June. The airline’s first 777-300ER, delivered last October and named the “Pride of Africa,” serves destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
To date, more than 130 787s have been delivered to 17 customers worldwide. Explore gallery of event images.