Israel clears Arkia airline for take off

The just-concluded visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yielded instant results on several fronts, all benefiting Kenya as a country and the Kenyan tourism industry.

While in Nairobi, where host President Uhuru Kenyatta correctly addressed the visiting PM as coming from Israel and not Palestine, Netanyahu announced increased security cooperation between the two countries to fight terrorism in all its forms. This will no doubt give Kenya’s security services a boost in terms of equipment and training, much needed to stay ahead of the latest tactics of terrorists as seen elsewhere in the world.

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The other good news was that Israel’s private airline, Arkia, will return to Kenya with three-times-a-week flights between Tel Aviv and Nairobi.

Arkia, faced with a failed missile attack – two SA7 surface-to-air missiles had been fired at the jet shortly after take-off on November 28, 2002 – subsequently withdrew from Mombasa, effectively cutting off the flow of Israeli tourists to the Kenya coast, and El Al, Israel’s national airline, also halted flights to Nairobi in 2002, reportedly over security concerns. There was intense speculation that El Al might return to Kenya in late 2014, but it now seems that Arkia will beat the Israeli national carrier to the door.

When flights resume, both trade and tourism will benefit from the new route as it cuts out travel via a third country when visiting the Holy Land.

While details about frequencies and aircraft to be used remain subject to speculation, it was confirmed that Kenya Airways was also given landing rights, should the Pride of Africa wish to go on the route.