Kenya leads African peers in air travel

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 00:00 |
Air transport. Photo/Courtesy

John Otini

Kenya has the highest proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa who have travelled by air in the last 24 months, a new survey shows.

The just-released study by Nasdaq listed Sabre Corporation, a technology provider to the global travel industry shows that 29 per cent of Kenyans surveyed travelled by air in the last two years compared to 21 and 27 per cent in Nigeria and South Africa respectively.

Over 5,000 people in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa were asked whether they had travelled by plane in the past 24 months, to which 26 per cent said they had—a two per cent rise on Sabre’s similar 2016 study.

More airstrips

Kenya has experienced a surge in airlines in the recent past serving domestic and international markets with more airstrips being built thanks to devolution. Most of the Kenyans polled said they would like to travel to South Africa, Seychelles, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Mauritius.

The research from Sabre Corporation was revealed at African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Annual General Assembly in Mauritius.

 “It is encouraging to see that a greater number of people have been able to access air travel over the past three years,” said Dino Gelmetti, vice president sales, Middle East and Africa. “However, our research shows that there is still a long way to go to make travel affordable and accessible.” 

Cost constraint

Gelmetti said overcoming the cost constraint is a major challenge, but all indications are that if airlines were able to reduce flight costs by optimising operations, routes and pricing, far more African people would take advantage of the opportunity to travel by air. 

The study shows that spending among African travellers could increase by 27 per cent over the next year if they were able to move more freely within the continent. Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, it says are the economic and travel hubs of sub-Saharan Africa.

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