Entebbe International ends 2022 on high hopes for full recovery
On December 7,2022, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority -CAA- hosted its Annual Stakeholders Engagement Breakfast. UCAA Director General Fred K Bamwesigye, took guests through a brisk brief on the fortunes of the year and the sector’s trials; which painted a picture of justified optimism.
Compared to calendar 2021, which closed at just under half of the international passengers achieved at the industry’s peak in 2019, by November 2022, international traffic through Entebbe was trending at 79pc of the full-year figure for 2019.
Although figures for cargo were not up to date, numbers for 2021 had shown resilience. Only 559 tons separated the year from the 64,731 tons registered in 2019. Even at its recent lowest, 59,720 tons of cargo were still hauled through Entebbe during 2020.
The recovery in passenger traffic was supported by frequency growth and new routes, as airlines either reverted to their pre-covid schedules, or new players entered the market. Available numbers indicate that 1, 421, 568 passengers had passed through the airport during the first eleven months of 2022, compared to the 1.8 million that were registered during 2019.
That period saw home-based Uganda Airlines revert to its original schedule on all regional routes save for Entebbe-Nairobi, which is now operating at 16 flights a week out of the 21 before the Covid-19 pandemic. The year also benefited from the entry of Air-Arabia on the Entebbe-Sharjah route and Airlink on the Johannesburg route, during the last quarter of 2021 and Uganda Airlines induction of its A330’s into service on the Dubai route. Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier, Saudia also commenced services to Riyadh mid-year.
Entebbe’s prospects for 2023 are still looking up because of the expected entry of BADR Airlines on the Entebbe-Khartoum Sector. Uganda Airlines also expects to add significant traffic when it launches services to Guangzhou, Lagos and London over the coming months. Those services, to be operated using the A330-800 will add significant capacity to the market, driving numbers further up.
The rebound of the oil and gas sector after the Final Investment Decision for the refinery is signed off in a couple of months’ time, coupled with setting up the upstream for extraction and export through the East African Crude Oil Pipeline -EACOP- also promise added momentum during 2023 and beyond.