Nairobi’s Airport shines even as Kenya Airways struggle

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Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the 2nd fastest growing airport in the word cargo ranking. This has been revealed in the Airports Council International (ACI) latest World Airport Traffic Report, which highlights top airports for passengers, cargo and aircraft movements and showcases the world’s fastest-growing airports for 2018.

JKIA was ranked 2nd in the ‘Fastest Growing Airports (Handing over 250,000 metric tons of air cargo)’ category, after handling over 342,000 metric tons of air cargo in 2018, a 25% growth from the what was reported in the year 2017.

This ranking came as a surprise to many given the dwindling fortunes of Kenya Airways which has been facing a hard economic time coupled with staff strikes and poor profitability. Kenya Airways management has fallen out with its pilots over continued losses at the airline, in the latest of many stand-offs between the two groups. This is in the wake of a Ksh8.5 billion (US$81.9 million) half-year 2019 (January-June) net loss as the carrier remains in the red.

The growth at the JKIA has been explained due to an increased interest in regional trade by global players as well as an increase in airlines flying to Kenya. JKIA has recently witnessed a significant boost in air cargo traffic to and from Europe, Asia, America, and most recently China and Australia.

The report found that, in total, the world’s airports accommodated 8.8 billion passengers, 122.7 million metric tonnes of cargo, and 99.9 million aircraft movements.

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The world’s top three airports for passenger traffic volume – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, and Dubai International Airport respectively – have held their positions while Los Angeles International Airport (fourth) and Tokyo International Airport (fifth) have swapped places in the top five from last year.

“The World Airport Traffic Report shows that, even as smaller airports around the world continue to make strong gains, the largest hub airports continue to grow,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “There were 16 airports handling more than 40 million passengers per annum in 2008 and there are now 54.

“Collectively, these airports achieved a year-over-year passenger traffic growth of +5.1% in 2018 which is significant considering a large proportion of these airports are in the mature and capacity-constrained markets of North America and Europe.”

Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization.

Kenya Airways has been aggressively pushing the management of the JKIA saying this would change its fortune a move that has received opposition from different interest groups and workers fearing loss of jobs as well as pointing on the loss-making aspect of the airline.

Read also: Kenya’s airport, JKIA, named ‘Africa’s Best Improved Airport’

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