It has been many years in the making. Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has finally been granted ‘Category One’ status, paving the way for direct flights between Kenya and the US.

Since the late 1980s, Kenyans seeking to travel to the US have had to pass through a third country, mainly in Europe.

After a series of rigorous assessments that began during Kibaki’s regime, United State’s Federal Aviation Administration has finally given the green-light.

“Getting Category One status for us is a major milestone in the growth and development of civil aviation in Kenya, East Africa and rest of Africa,” said Transport CS James Macharia.

“The granting of this status means that airline operators, both in Kenya and US, which have long desired to operate directly to or from the US will now be allowed to carry on their operations,” he added.

This makes Kenya only the fifth African country after South Africa, Nigeria, Cape Verde and Ethiopia.

This new development presents a whole new opportunity for Kenyan businesses to access the vast US market, especially horticultural produce.

Kenya Airways and other players, both in Kenya and the US are now free to make commercial arrangements for direct flights.

Among the conditions the FAA had set was separation of passenger arrival and departure terminals, clearing the flight path, fencing off the airport among other security measures.