- The number of passengers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) fell by 72% last year, with freight dropping a marginal 3% between the year and February.
- The Kenya Aiports Authority (KAA) said the freight counter continued to perform well thanks mainly to increased demand for fresh produce and other related supplies, as well as the transport of goods associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of passengers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) fell by 72% last year, with freight dropping a marginal 3% between the year and February.
The Kenya Aiports Authority (KAA) said the freight counter continued to perform well thanks mainly to increased demand for fresh produce and other related supplies, as well as the transport of goods associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
KAA data shows passenger numbers at JKIA jumped from 5.8 million in the previous year to 1.6 million last year as the aviation industry continues to suffer from the effects of Covid-19 .
Industry data showed that aircraft movements during the period considered fell by 53%, from 80,580 previously to 37,895, with freight falling from 245 million to 253.1 million kilograms. However, the month of February 2021 showed signs of recovery with growth of 5.2% compared to the same period of the previous year.
“The amount of cargo handled in February increased 5.2 percent to 35,124,689 kilograms recorded during the period under review,” the KAA report said.
Moi International Airport saw a 60% drop in passenger numbers, highlighting the impact of Covid-19 on tourism in the coastal city of Kenya.
The decrease in passenger numbers could be attributed to a slowdown in the number of visitors to the region due to Covid-19, which has seen Kenya impose a lockdown and ban international flights to curb the spread of the virus.
Eldoret International Airport recorded a 43.4% drop in passenger numbers, as cargo volumes fell 12%.
It comes at a time when global demand for air freight returned to pre-Covid levels in January, showing a recovery for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic a year ago. The recovery in performance has been a relief for struggling airlines over the past year.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said January demand was also showing strong month-over-month growth from December 2020 levels.
Total demand in January 2021 (measured in revenue passenger-kilometers or RPKs) was down 72.0 percent from January 2019. This was worse than the 69.7 percent year-over-year decline. ‘other registered in December 2020.
Total domestic demand fell by 47.4% from pre-crisis levels (January 2019). In December, it was down 42.9% from the previous year.
Demand for international passengers in January was 85.6% lower than January 2019, a further decline from the 85.3% year-over-year decline recorded in December.
IATA says 2021 has started less well than 2020 has ended and that even as vaccination programs accelerate, new variants of Covid-19 are leading governments to increase travel restrictions, uncertainty over the duration of these restrictions having an impact on future travel.
IATA has urged governments to implement testing as an alternative to quarantine measures when their economies reopen.
“Mandatory quarantine measures prevent people from traveling. We understand that the priority of governments is to protect the well-being of their citizens. Quarantine destroys livelihoods. Testing is an alternative method that will also save jobs in travel and tourism, ”IATA previously said.
In East Africa, Kenya has imposed a 14-day quarantine for visitors from countries not on the security list. IATA had predicted that the airlines’ recovery would occur over the next three years, when economies should have been fully opened.