Why Entebbe will be cheaper transit point than JKIA

Planes at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. PHOTO | AFP

Uganda has scrapped taxes on airlines using the Entebbe International Airport, a move that will make it cheaper for transiting passengers to travel through the facility.

The move, which may not augur well for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), which has for years claimed the status of being the regional hub for transit passengers, may see passengers traveling through East Africa opt for the Entebbe route.

The Ministry of Finance in Uganda said in the budget for 2021/2022 that it will exempt the airport charges in order to lower the cost of flying through Entebbe.

“Under the Value Added Tax Act, the following amendments have been made, exempting the supply of airport user services charged by the Civil Aviation Authority to reduce the cost of transiting through Entebbe Airport,” said Uganda’s Finance Minister Matia Kasaija during the budget presentation last month.

Airport charges and taxes are some of the things that make the cost of air ticket to be expensive and passengers normally seek the routes that are cheaper when making a transit journey. In Entebbe, passengers pay up to $47 in airport taxes when compared to JKIA’s $50, a cost that airlines pass to passengers.

This comes as Civil Aviation Authority in the United Kingdom has called on Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, to reduce passenger charges. The fees were raised at the end of last year to check on operating losses at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The authorities in London permitted Heathrow last year to increase its average passenger cost from £19.60 to £30.19, a move that has been criticised by airlines.

According to African Airlines Association (Afraa), airports in Europe charge less than in Africa in terms of taxes and fees on arrival and transfer. The average amount of transfer taxes and fees in Africa is USD 36.02 compared to $17.55 in Europe. Taxes and fees on arrival are $8.81 in Europe, while $12.32 in Africa.

Apart from passenger taxes that are levied directly on the ticket, airlines have to face many other charges related to their operations at the airport level. Some of them include landing fees, noise, parking, common user terminal equipment and lighting among others.

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