Entebbe International Airport made a strong rebound in 2022, closing the year at 87 percent of the international passengers registered in 2019.  Full-year traffic data published by the Uganda Aviation Authority in the coming days indicates that the facility saw 1,571,950 international passengers during the year against the 1,802,127 registered during the industry peak in 2019. 

YOY growth was 67 percent over 2021, which followed a sharp -86.8 percent dip in 2020. 

Aircraft movements at the airport followed a similar pattern at 88.3 percent of the peak year. Cargo came in stronger at 94 percent of 2019, with the exports’ component accounting for 67 percent of the 60,866 tons of freight the airport handled. 

The recovery was supported by frequency growth and new routes as airlines either reverted to their pre-covid schedules or through the entry of new carriers. Numbers also benefitted from the resumption of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca during July and August and strong festive season traffic during December. The pickup in the oil and gas sector following the anticipated sign-off of the final investment decision for Uganda’s refinery and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline -EACOP also added momentum to the year. 

The year saw home-based Uganda Airlines revert to its full schedule on all regional routes except Entebbe-Nairobi, which is now operating 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 A330s into service on the Dubai route. Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier, Saudia, commenced services to Riyadh mid-year.  

Entebbe’s prospects for 2023 are looking up because of the expected entry of BADR Airlines into 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.  

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Michael Wakabi

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