Nairobi records highest domestic air travel in Africa

Nairobi has recorded a 22 per cent growth in domestic air travel capacity making it the only African city whose airports are recording higher growth in domestic than international flight capacity.

A report by ForwardKeys released yesterday further indicates the city’s airports have a total scheduled capacity of 18 per cent in domestic seats, 31 per cent in long-haul international seats and 51 per cent capacity in intra-Africa international seats between August and December this year.

Nairobi has only two airports; the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, located about 15 km from the CBD, catering mainly for international flights while Wilson Airport, serves mainly domestic flights.

The report said JKIA accounts for 13 per cent of the scheduled domestic flights and 5 per cent of long-haul and intra-Africa international seats over the five months.

“The trend is encouraging for aviation players. As a travel agent, we anticipate a surge in flight bookings in the last half of 2017,” said Jumia Travel Kenya Country Manager Cyrus Onyiego.

“Most inspiring is the contribution of Kenyans and other members of the East African Community to domestic travel. It reflects our confidence in our own tourism products,” he added.

Kenya’s tourism domestic spending stands at 59 per cent compared to 41 per cent of foreign visitor spending.

ForwardKeys compared Nairobi’s air travel trends to that of 10 other top African airports ranked by total scheduled capacity between the months of August and December.

The analysis indicated that the other African cities were witnessing more growth in international flights than domestic bookings.

Generally, the wider analysis of the report shows that East African Community destinations received a strong growth of 14.3 per cent since the beginning of the year.

According to Travel and Tourism expert Carmen Nibigira, the future of tourism in East Africa is “embedded in the vision of one destination with multiple cultures and products”.

“After all, with a population of 160 million and 10 per cent of which is a potential market, it makes sense to invest on inter and intra-regional tourism,” Nibigira said.

Overall, the report revealed, African airports continue to record positive performance, welcoming an increase in international arrivals which currently stand at 14 per cent.

Another report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicated that global passenger traffic (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers) increased by 7.8 per cent in June this year compared to the same period last year.

It said the industry recorded a 12-year high growth of 7.9 per cent in traffic in the first six months of 2017.

India led all markets with a 20.3 per cent rise in domestic traffic in June, the IATA report said.

African airlines’ traffic soared 9.9 per cent in June with a 7.1 per cent rise in capacity, it added.

The report said the combined load factor in Africa jumped 1.7 percentage points to 64.3 per cent although this was still the lowest among regions.

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