Kenya’s major airport registered a growth of transit passengers last year, highlighting Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as a favourite transiting hub for international travellers.
Recent data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that the number of international passengers in transit increased by 2.7 per cent from 1.2 million in 2016 to 1.25 million last year.
JKIA is a major hub for passengers connecting to Europe, US or even the Middle East.
Overall, Kenya’s major airports recorded an increase on the number of passengers who used different ports in the period under review.
“The total number of passengers increased by 3.5 per cent from 9.8 million in 2016 to 10.1 million last year,” says the KNBS in a recently released Economic Survey.
The number of passengers handled at the JKIA increased by 2.2 per cent to 7.3 million while those handled at the Moi International Airport (MIA) remained at 1.2 million during the review period.
The Moi International Airport handles aircraft coming from outside the country because of its tourism status, unlike some airports that only handle domestic airlines.
Commercial cargo handled at the JKIA increased by 18 per cent to 273,000 tonnes with MIA recording an increase of 20 per cent to 3,500 tonnes.
According to the KNBS, domestic landings and takeoffs increased by 1.5 per cent to 207,831 in 2017, as more airlines moved in to tap the high demand for flying.
Local airlines have been expanding to new routes as demand for air travel in parts of the country that do not have a developed air transport takes root. This is a boost to Kenyans who are now enjoying low fares due to increased competition.
In the last couple of months, airlines have launched new routes that include the far flung Wajir region that have been lagging behind in air transport.
Jambojet is currently flying to Wajir and it charges Sh4,200 for one way ticket.
This is the latest local route that they have introduced in their schedule.
Local airline Silverstone Air Services introduced Kisumu and Mombasa routes last year, targeting tourists on the Western and Coastal circuit.
The airline launched commercial flights from Nairobi to Kisumu and Ukunda, having previously operated as a charter-only carrier.
Silverstone is currently operating five planes on its local routes, consisting of two Dash-8 planes and three Fokker 50 aircraft.
The airline launched daily flights to Lodwar in January, raising the competition for customers on the route that is also served by Fly540, Safarilink and several other carriers.
Silverstone is charging Sh8,500 for one way ticket to Lodwar, the same amount that Skyward Express ticket costs on the same route.
The plans to put up a second runway at JKIA are underway after the country secured funding from African Development Bank (AFDB).
This marks a major starting point for the expansion of the airport that has for a long time been operating with a single runway.
The single runway has been blamed for delays in takeoffs and landing of the aircrafts at the facility.
The project is expected to commence in the second half of 2018 and is expected to ease delays at the facility once it is commissioned.