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International passenger numbers steadily increasing – UCAA

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority – UCAA says international passenger numbers are steadily increasing.

Fred K. Bamwesigye, acting director general UCAA said this on Friday evening during a press conference at Entebbe International Airport.

Entebbe Airport resumed commercial passenger flights on 1st October, 2020, after seven months of inactivity.

Bamwesigye said that in October, Entebbe Airport handled a total of 42,633 international passengers, of which 56 percent were arriving and the rest departing or in transit.

Last year, the airport handled over 1.9 million international passengers with about 5,400 passengers daily.

In the first 25 days of November, Bamwesigye noted an increase in the daily average of passengers from 1,375 passengers in October to 1,676 so far recorded this month.

Bamwesigye also said the airport handled a total of 5,542 metric tonnes of cargo in October. Of these, 3,301 were exports and 2,241 were imports.

Last year, Entebbe Airport handled a total of 62,000 metric tonnes of cargo, with about 5,166 metric tonnes handled per month.

He attributed the steadily increasing numbers to improved passenger facilitation at the airport ever since the resumption of commercial passenger flights and also adding an extra flight per day for airlines that used to operate several flights daily in the past. For instance, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines used to operate five to seven flights a day.

Bamwesigye however said the cargo and passenger numbers are below the projected growth figures for the airport whereby passenger traffic will reach 6 million while cargo volumes will increase to 172,000 tonnes by 2033.

He is however optimistic that the passenger and cargo figures will keep increasing compared to the first five months of this year where the numbers dropped by 56 percent due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry across the globe. The pandemic broke out in November 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan and within three months, it had spread to over 60 countries across the world including Uganda.

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Entebbe Airport was handling an average of 70,000 metric tonnes of cargo every year, up from 6,600 tonnes in 1991. Passenger numbers also grew from 118,527 in 1991 to 1.9 million last year.

However, UCAA figures showed Entebbe airport handled 426,187 passengers from January to May 2020 compared to 758,284 in the same period in 2019.

Uganda however recorded growths in passenger numbers in January and February 2020 compared to the first two months of 2019. In January 2020, passenger numbers grew by 7.8 percent with a total of 174,212 people compared to the 161,475 recorded in January 2019.

Also, there was a 12.7 percent growth with a total of 158,280 passengers in February 2020 compared to the total of 140,438 recorded in February 2019.

However, from March to May, these gains were wiped away because passenger numbers dropped by 99 percent from over 140,000 passengers in each of these months in 2019 to under 1,200 passengers in the same period in 2020.

Meanwhile, Irene Nalwoga, the Managing Director for Renewills Tours and Travel, Women Tour Uganda and Renewills Real Estate says travel agents have low volume of sells.

“I and my colleagues are selling 20 to 30 air tickets a month and yet we used to sell between 200 to 300 tickets monthly. So air travelers to and from Uganda are still few,” says Nalwoga.
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