East Africa airports seeing increase in tourist arrivals, but not Entebbe

What makes for a busy East African airport? Tourism and airline hubs, according to travel data company ForwardKeys.

None of the new routes for East African Community airports in 2017 includes Entebbe. Kigali International Airport has added four routes; to London Brussels, Mumbai, and Harare. Kilimanjaro is adding three weekly flights from Dubai, while Dar es Salaam is adding one to the Emirati city. Nairobi, on the other hand, is adding two routes – one to Muscat and another from Yemen.

Because of these new flights, Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport will see a13% increase in seats on long-haul international flights in the second half of the year compared to the same period in 2016; seats on intra-Africa international flights will rise by 4%. Kigali will register a 58% rise for long-haul international seats and 4% for intra-Africa seats.

And Entebbe? Uganda’s only international airport will not see any increase in long-haul international seats in the period, according to ForwardKeys. It will also see a 6% decline in seats on intra-Africa international flights.

The data is contained in a report by ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by analysing flight reservation data.

Kigali’s new routes are operated by RwandAir, Rwanda’s national carrier which uses the airport as its base. The airline added four new flights this year; to Mumbai and Harare in April, London in May, and Brussels in July. This brought the number of destinations it flies to 22.

RwandAir is also planning new flights Bamako, Conakry, and Dakar in West Africa, Guangzhou in China, and New York in the United States of America.

Starting this October, FlyDubai, the low-cost airline owned by the government of Dubai, will fly three times to Kilimanjaro International Airport. Most of the flights to the airport – which styles itself as “the gateway to Africa’s wildlife heritage” – are carrying visitors to northern Tanzania’s famous national parks.

Although Dar Es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere Airport is getting one more weekly flight to Dubai, operated by Inter Iles Air, it lost the four weekly flights to Muscat by Oman Air to Nairobi in January; Oman Air moved the flights to the Kenyan capital in March.

All in all, the report says arrivals to East African airports will grow by 16.4% in the last half of the year versus the corresponding period last year. Europe, which has the biggest number of reservations for travel to the region with a 63% share, will see a 22.9% growth in travellers, followed by America with 15.5% and Africa with 7.6%. However, arrivals from the Middle East and Asia Pacific are projected to fall by 6% and 3.8% respectively.

In the first six months of this year, East African airports registered a 14.3% year on year increase in international arrivals, according to ForwardKeys. Most of the visitors were from Europe, which had a 38% share and 16.1% growth in arrivals; Africa with a 34% share and 14.9% growth, and the America’s with a 14% share. Asia Pacific’s share was 10%, while the Middle East contributed only 4% of arrivals.

Entebbe left out of East Africa’s tourist arrivals boom this year