Air Travel Is Flourishing In East Africa And Languishing In North Africa


Air travel to East Africa has been on the rise over the past year.

This is despite instances of terrorism threats, political violence and electoral tension in the region. Data from a breakdown of flight reservations suggest a vastly different tale of air travel for North Africa.

North Africa’s tourism industry is not getting many hits as seen by the low air travel to the countries therein. Countries like Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia have had potential outsider visits cut to a mere trickle due to increased fears of terrorist activities and the internal cases of unrest that are common in the area.

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Travels to Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya, in East Africa, have increased with Kenya leading the pack by 14.9% in growth. The data was published by travel data company Forward Keys and it shows an overall growth of 11.2% compared with the same period last year. The growth is expected to power on till the end of 2016, with international bookings 17.3% ahead of where they were last year.

North African countries – Tunisia and Egypt – have suffered terrorist attacks that have dampened the number of European visitors. These European visitors seem to have turned to countries like Spain as alternative holiday spots.

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Olivier Jager, the chief executive officer of Forward Keys, said: “We are seeing a tale of two Africas.”

Indeed, the marked growth of air travel in East Africa is translating to an increased growth in airport capacity. The research defines this increased capacity according to number of seats across East Africa.

Air travel

To that end, the research notes that Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar airports have shown tremendous growth in the last quarter, while Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta airport led the region in terms of capacity.

Air travel

Rwanda was also shown to record an increase in capacity to cater to both regional and international flights, a trend which will be markedly improved by $418 million airport the country is building.

Upon completion in 2018, the airport is expected to handle 1.7 million passengers a year, doubling its current capacity of just over 500,000. A second phase expansion plan is expected to increase the capacity to 4.5 million passengers every year.