By Uganda Online Media
Entebbe: The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority- UCAA has revealed that passenger numbers at Entebbe International Airport are increasing after lifting most Covid-19 global travel restrictions.
This was revealed by Fred Bamwesigye, the Director-General of UCAA saying the numbers have shot up since global economies fully reopened after two years of lockdown.
According to Bamwesigye, 110,547 passengers were recorded in January 2022. Of these, 62,677 were departures and 47,870 were arrivals, translating into an average of 3,566 travelers per day at Entebbe International Airport.
“In February 2022, the airport recorded 46,275 arrivals and 56,156 departures totaling 102,431 passengers, an average of 3,658 per day,” Bamwesigye said.
“Clearly an improvement from the daily average of 2,568 recorded in 2021 and that of 1500 in 2020, it is still short of the daily average of 5,000 passengers per day that the airport used to record in 2019 prior to the advent of COVID-19,” he added.
Entebbe International Airport handled over 1.9 million passengers in 2019, but the numbers dropped to about 600,000 in 2020 and 940,000 last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bamwesigye further noted that the daily average has increased in the first two months of the year, signaling a positive impact of easing travel restrictions such as the lifting of travel bans, curfew, and mandatory quarantine.
In Uganda, the economy was fully re-opened in January while mandatory testing of all incoming passengers was halted last month.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, UCAA was recording revenues of 20 billion shillings a month but this dropped to one billion shillings a month.
Bamwesigye says the revenues at some point were less than one billion shillings a month in 2020. “But we are now recovering because the passenger numbers are increasing and we are making more money now, about shillings 5 billion a month.”
Apart from easing of travel measures, Vianney Luggya, the UCAA spokesperson, says the entry of two new airlines has also contributed to growing passenger traffic.
Air Arabia and Saudia launched flights at Entebbe Airport in October 2021 and February 2022 respectively, bringing the total number of international flight operators to 17. Saudia operates direct flights to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia while Air Arabia flies to Sharjah in the UAE.
Luggya says the entry of Air Arabia and Saudia will boost passenger traffic to the Middle East, which has key destinations in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman among others. He notes that over 20 percent of the passengers registered at Entebbe Airport in 2020 were from or departed to the Middle East.
The Middle East is a key destination for business people and migrant workers. Over 140,000 Ugandan workers are estimated to be in Saudi Arabia alone as hundreds flock there and other parts of the Middle East every month.
Uganda Airlines started commercial operations in August 2019 and operates a fleet of four (4) CRJ900 and two (2) Airbus A330-800neo.
The national carrier has expanded its network to 11 destinations since its inception. However, according to the airline’s business plan, in the second year of operation, the national carrier had planned to have 18 and four (4) regional and international routes respectively, but this couldn’t be possible due to COVID-19 effects.
Some of the Uganda Airlines operational routes include Nairobi, Mombasa, Dubai, Kinshasa, Johannesburg, Juba, Dar es Salaam Mogadishu, and Bujumbura.
In October 2021, Uganda Airlines commenced direct flights to Dubai using the Airbus A330 neo state of the art Aircraft and is keen to launch more regional and international flights with the easing of travel restrictions around the world.