ANALYSIS: Airports in Eastern Africa - The Biggest and Fastest Growing Gateways

Ahead of this year's World Routes forum, Routesonline is providing another look at our series of articles on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across regions of the world last year. Here we look closely at the airports of Eastern Africa and highlight the region's top performers.

Ahead of this year's World Routes forum, Routesonline is providing another look at our series of articles on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across regions of the world last year.  Here we look closely at the airports of Eastern Africa and highlight the region's top performers.

​ The data is all supplied by OAG Aviation using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool.

Scheduled Air Capacity From Eastern Africa (2005 - 2014)

Our analysis of published schedules for the past ten years shows that air capacity within and from Eastern Africa has risen from 15,273,418 available seats in 2005 to 24,771,883 available seats in 2014.  This represents a growth of 62.2 per cent across the period, an average annual increase of 6.9 per cent.  In the past year capacity declined 0.8 per cent.

Top Ten Airports in the Eastern African Market (2014)

The hub models of the leading carriers in East Africa mean that Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, a regional gateway for Star Alliance, and Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a regional gateway for SkyTeam, accounted for more than a third of the total annual departures from this part of the world in 2014. Bole International had a 19.6 per cent share and Jomo Kenyatta International a 19.5 per cent share. Both are close to the five million annual departure seat figure.

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in the popular holiday archipelago of Mauritius, Algeria (7.5 per cent) and Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (7.5 per cent) are the third and fourth largest facilities in Eastern Africa by departure capacity, while Roland Garros Airport in Réunion is the fifth largest in the area (5.3 per cent). The latter is named after the famous French aviator who was born in Saint-Denis.

Fastest Growing Airports in the Eastern African Market (2010-2014)

Looking at capacity data in the region across a five year period and the development of RwandAir and emergence of Rwanda as a destination has propelled Kigali International Airport to the position as the fastest growing airport within and from Eastern Africa between 2010 and 2014. The facility has seen departure seats more than double over the past five years from 417,111 in 2010 to 908,176 in 2014 and has risen from being the 12th largest airport in the region to seventh largest by capacity during the period.

Notable growth has also been recorded at Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania (64.0 per cent), Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (60.6 per cent); Wilson Airport, serving the Kenyan capital Nairobi (49.6 per cent); Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, Somalia (44.3 per cent); Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (38.5 per cent) and Mwanza Airport in Northern Tanzania (36.8 per cent).

Data comparison between 2013 and 2014 shows a negative capacity trend among the top ten airports in the region by capacity, with only three growing and seven showing year-on-year departure capacity declines over the period, a sign of some of the struggles that are currently impacting this part of the world over the past year or two.

The growth of Ethiopian Airlines and an expanded network buoyed by the arrival of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet have helped Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport report the highest annual capacity growth between 2013 and 2014 with a 7.9 per cent rise in departure seats within and from Eastern Africa. The only other airports to report capacity rises among the top ten were Kigali International Airport in Rwanda (up 4.9 per cent) and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Mauritius (0.4 per cent), the latter thanks in a big part to Emirates Airline deploying the A380 on its link from Dubai.

The largest declines in capacity in 2014 came at Mombasa Airport on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast (down 9.9 per cent); Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (down 6.3 per cent) as Precisionair downscaled; Entebbe International Airport in Uganda (down 4.7 per cent) and Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania (down 4.5 per cent).

Looking at the wider top twenty airports in the region it is Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, mainly a domestic facility in Kenya’s capital city, which recorded the largest year-on-year capacity growth between 2013 and 2014 with a rise of 20.4 per cent, thanks in a big part to scheduled growth at AirKenya Aviation. Growth was also recorded at Kisumu International Airport in Kenya (up 5.1 per cent), Zanzibar Airport in Tanzania (up 3.6 per cent) and Bujumbura International Airport in Burundi (up 2.6 per cent), while large double-digit declines were recorded at Asmara International Airport in Eritrea (down 27.7 per cent) and Juba International Airport in new nation, South Sudan (down 23.0 per cent).

Scheduled Eastern African Capacity by Aircraft Type

The chart below shows which aircraft types were most prevalent in the Eastern African market during 2014. The schedule data shows that regional aircraft types are utilised the most in this part of the Continent with sub-125 seater jet and turboprop equipment in three of the top four positions.

The Embraer 190 (E90), which seats up to 124 passengers and is part of the EJet family, is the most widely used aircraft type in this market with a 9.7 per cent share of available seats with overall network capacity increasing by more than a third (up 35.7 per cent) between 2013 and 2014 to just under 2.5 million departure seats.

The second most utilised aircraft type in this market is the Boeing 737-800 (738) with a 9.3 per cent share, down 2.9 per cent in 2014, while the third most widely operated type by network capacity is the Bombardier Dash 8 (DH8) with a 7.1 per cent share, down 3.4 per cent, followed by the ATR 72 (AT7), down 9.0 per cent.

Alongside the rapid rise in E190 operations in Eastern Africa in 2014, the biggest rises in annual capacity among the top ten aircraft types were recorded by the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) with a 10.1 per cent rise in available seats in 2014 versus 2013 and the Airbus A320 (320) with a 5.9 per cent rise. In fact these were the only other types within the top ten to see capacity rises.

Seven of the ten airline types most prevalent in Eastern Africa witnessed a decline in usage in 2014 versus 2013. The largest decline in annual capacity were recorded by the Airbus A319 (319) with a fall of 23.3 per cent versus 2013 and the Boeing 767-300ER (763) with a decline in seats of 22.8 per cent.

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