One might expect the Africa’s busiest airport to be located in South Africa or Nigeria or Tunisia, but the distinction actually belongs to East Africa.
ForwardKeys is the company that predicts future travel patterns by crunching and analysing 14m booking transactions a day, revealed entire strong growth of 11.2% in East Africa compared with the same period last year.
The first and second airports in terms of capacity are Nairobi International Airports and Kilimanjaro airport-both in Kenya and Tanzania.
The analysis cited Rwanda’s Kigali International Airport among top three airports in terms of capacity defined by the total number of seats this year.
Kigali is beat Nairobi, and Kilimanjaro in terms of airport capacity and in terms of growth according to the analysis of International air travel to East Africa this year (January to August).
The company predicted future travel patterns by crunching and analysing 14m booking transactions a day, reveals strong growth of 11.2% compared with the same period last year.
The Spain-based company says Africa registered 5.6% growth, with countries like Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia seeing little growth or even a decline.
In a press release issued by the company on today, Olivier Jager, CEO of ForwardKeys, said: “We are seeing a tale of two Africas, with North African countries suffering from political instability and terror activities and Sub Saharan African countries powering ahead, with Ethiopia up 9.6%, Tanzania up 10.6%, Mauritius up 11.6% and Kenya up 14.9%. South Africa is up 11.4%”.
Jager added that by looking ahead to the remainder of the year, “the picture is highly encouraging for East Africa.”
According to the report, International bookings for travel to East African countries will until December this year up by 17.3% ahead of where they were at this time last year.
The main origin markets are the UK with 13.2% ahead, Germany with 21% ahead; USA 21% ahead, France 16.1% ahead, the Netherlands with 16.6% ahead, South Africa; 9.4% ahead and India is 34% ahead.
Looking at international capacity from the 3rd quarter of last year to the 2nd , 3rd and projected 2nd quarter of next year, Nairobi grew 0% and 2% respectively, while Kigali International Airport grow by 5% and 4% respectively. Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro grew 11% and 20% respectively.
Based on the capacity for flights within East Africa in the periods Q3 2015 – Q2 2016 and Q3 2016 – Q2 2017, Nairobi grew 0% and 2% respectively, Kigali 13% and 5% respectively and Kilimanjaro 6% and 14% respectively.
The data has been released ahead of AviaDev- a new airline route development conference and AHIF- Africa’s highest profile hotel investment conference, due to be hosted in Rwanda at Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Centre in Kigali from 4-6 next month.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events, which is organising AHIF and AviaDev, said: “We are seeing unprecedented interest in the AHIF AviaDev combination, with over twenty airlines signing up to talk about new air routes, with global CEOs of the world’s biggest hotel companies present to discuss their plans for Africa and with government ministers keen to attract inward investment; one has to ask: “Why is there such serious interest?” These highly encouraging booking figures explain it.”
Jonathan added that “If what is happening in Rwanda becomes a yardstick against which other East African countries measure themselves, I would expect this strong growth to continue. There, a new airport is under construction 25km outside Kigali, with the ability to cater for 4.5 million passengers a year, seven times today’s traffic.”
Early this month, Rwanda signed a major deal with a Portuguese investor to begin construction of Bugesera International Airport (BIA) project at a tune of $818 million.
The deal, a joint venture between Rwanda acting through Aviation Travel Logistics Holdings Limited (ATL), was signed with Mota-Engil, Engenharia e Construção África, S.A.
The project has so far $418 million of initial investment and is scheduled for completion by December 2018 in its first phase, which will deliver a facility with a capacity to receive 1.7 million passengers every year.
Upon completion of this phase, extension works will be undertaken, to upgrade the capacity to 4.5 million passengers annually.
Meanwhile, Rwanda invested $17.8m in extension of Kigali International Airport which has seen additional two more escalators, three lifts, an expanded VIP lounge; arrival and departure lounges as well as a second conveyor belt added to the country’s old airport.
In 2014, the airport was ranked among the top ten best national airports in Africa. With extension works, Tonny Barigye, Public Relations Officer of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority said the number of passengers has increased drastically.
“With renovation, the airport can now accommodate 1.5m passengers annually,” he said.
With the presence of international airlines such as Qatar Airlways, Turkish Airlines Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, and SN Brussels, the upgrading of Kigali International Airport has seen flight frequencies jumped from 60 to 400 weekly.