Air Travel: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda lead as Uganda lags behind

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In short
Jonathan Worsley, an organizer of the two conferences, said if what is happening in Rwanda becomes a yardstick against which other East African countries measure themselves, he would expect this strong growth to continue.

Analysis of international air travel to East Africa between January and August this year by ForwardKeys, a London-based analytics company reveals strong growth of 11.2 percent compared with the same period last year.
ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by crunching and analysing 14 million booking transactions a day, says the figures show an exceptional performance as growth for Africa as whole has been 5.6 percent with countries like Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, which are attractive for tourism, seeing little growth or even a decline.

The analysis shows that the East African countries that received increased number of inward travels, including by tourists, are Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mauritius, Kenya and Rwanda. South Africa also saw an increase of 11.4 percent.

Commenting on the results, the Chief Executive Officer of ForwardKeys, Olivier Jager, said they are seeing a tale of two Africas in which North African countries suffering from political instability and terror activities and Sub Saharan African countries powering ahead.

The company also looked ahead at bookings to East Africa up to December and says the picture is highly encouraging. According to ForwardKeys, international bookings for travel to East African countries, up to the end of December are 17.3 percent ahead of where they were at the same time last year.  
The main origin markets are the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, France, the Netherlands, South Africa and India. The report also analysed airport capacity, defined by the total number of seats, revealing that the stars in terms of growth are Nairobi, Kigali and Kilimanjaro.  Entebbe International Airport does not feature.

On the capacity for flights within East Africa, the report also shows that Nairobi, Kigali and Kilimanjaro also did well. Uganda is the only country in the region without a national carrier.
The data has been released ahead of AviaDev, a new airline route development conference and Africa's highest profile hotel investment conference, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 4-6 October 2016.

Jonathan Worsley, an organizer of the two conferences, said if what is happening in Rwanda becomes a yardstick against which other East African countries measure themselves, he would expect this strong growth to continue. Rwanda recently embarked on the construction of a second and bigger international airport 25 kilometers outside the capital Kigali.
The airport will have the capacity to handle 4.5 million passengers annually, that is about a half the population of Rwanda. The Rwandan national carrier, RwandAir, has also has invested in new aircraft and set itself ambitious growth plans and the government is actively promoting Rwanda as a destination for conferences, exhibitions, tourism, ICT and investments.
Asked to comment on the data, the Corporate Communications Manager of Civil Aviation Authority, Ignie Igunduura, said he needed to read the report before commenting. Igunduura, however, said Entebbe Airport is doing, as he put it, "very, very well", adding that the massive expansion and revamping of the airport will attract many travelers to Uganda.
He never gave estimated figures.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."