Travellers at airports up 85pc in three months


Passengers at the international arrivals at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on November 29, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

The number of passengers transiting the country’s main international airports rose by 85 percent in the three months to March compared to a year earlier, attributed to the continued resumption of global travel and growth in charter flights.

Data from the Immigration department show arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Moi International Airport in Mombasa stood at 225,321 in the first quarter from 121,739 last year.

Passenger numbers had dropped massively from 2020 after the suspension of international travel as countries battled to contain the Covid pandemic.

The arrivals in the period are still below the 290,021 recorded in the first quarter of 2020, which was just before the pandemic reached Kenya.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has attributed the rise in passenger numbers to an increase in both scheduled and charter flights, especially to Mombasa supporting the hotels in the coastal circuit.

Most of the charter flights are through Qatar Airways, Eurowings and Ethiopian Airlines.

“One of the things that happened during a pandemic is that tourists were experimenting with new experiences and discovered that charter flights work better. We are seeing an increase of this with tourists from Bulgaria and Germany whose locals love Mombasa,’’ said KTB.

“Even so there has been a lull this quarter due to Ukraine which normally accounts for some of the charter flights.”

The jump in arrivals is also being helped by the easing of restrictive measures such as mandatory testing.

Recent data by IATA indicated that 25 of the top 50 countries for air travel, representing around 38 percent of 2019 passenger numbers, are now open to fully vaccinated travellers without any quarantine or testing requirements.

This is an increase from 18 markets that were in the same position in mid-February in an earlier survey done by the association.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says the sector could return to pre-pandemic passenger traffic levels sooner than the 2024 date that had earlier been issued.

The aviation said industry the ongoing war in Ukraine, prevailing restrictions in China, high oil prices, and travel delays from staff shortages are not denting the recovery.

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