Air travel in Kenya is back at fifty percent of 2019 levels, with over 400 aircraft movements per day. Especially domestic services are seeing a quick recovery, whereas international traffic is lagging behind as has been seen in a worldwide trend. Kenya’s domestic travel faces a quick rebound.
During an African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) webinar hosted by its President, Nick Fadugba, and monitored by AirInsight, Director-General of Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), Captain Gilbert Kibe, said: “If we look at the aviation industry in Kenya, we have 1.600 aircraft in our register. Nine hundred are in operation, the majority are in private hands. That is for those in General Aviation. Business aviation is not as significant as General Aviation (GA). Business aviation is smaller than General aviation”.
He continued: “We have already seen 400 aircraft movements and we are at fifty percent of where we were in 2019. Over 70.000 people are employed directly by the sector and another 40.000 are indirectly employed. It is very significant”. Kibe also said that aviation contributes four percent to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking on a bailout for airlines in the country, Kibe admitted that Kenya does not have the funds to support struggling airlines, but stated that what the country lacks in terms of financial assistance can be made up by giving them a tax exemption, aircraft parts duty removal, removal of taxes on fuel.
Kibe lamented that high airport taxes imposed by governments in Africa had done incalculable damage to a sector that requires urgent rescue. Taxes stand at $50 per passenger. He urged governments to reduce taxes on domestic flights to engender quick recovery.
Growing support for African single market
The KCAA chief backed the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063. This initiative of the African Union aims to create a single unified air transport market in Africa to advance the liberalization of civil aviation in Africa. It also acts as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda.
SAATM will ensure aviation plays a major role in connecting Africa, promoting its social, economic, and political integration, and boosting intra-Africa trade and tourism as a result. SAATM was created to expedite the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision.
Although it is still going at snail speed, many believe that the full implementation of the single market could reap enormous economic benefits. Africa has a huge population and a vast landmass, the potential of the enormous benefits the continent possess has not been fully tapped.
While 36 African nations have signed the solemn commitment to SAATM, only three according to Kibe have implemented it fully: Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. Nigeria appears among countries of 36 nations that have shown serious commitment. Other countries that have signed up to SAATM include Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea (Bissau), and Guinée.
Others are Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sénégal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Chad, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
Kenya Airways partners with EVE
In a separate development, Kenya Airways has partnered with Embraer’s Urban Air Mobility (subsidiary EVE to develop the UAM market within Kenya and Africa. The Memorandum of Understanding is with Kenya Airways’ UAM subsidiary Fahari Aviation. UAM’s could dramatically change travel within Africa as a journey with an eVTOL aircraft will take only a few minutes compared to long and difficult trips by road or public transport. EVE and Fahari will establish concepts and procedures for the safe travel of eVTOL aircraft. Fahari is already training pilots to fly drones/ and will start a new course this month.