Arrivals through Entebbe International Airport have declined by about 7,987 passengers, eroding recovery that had been recorded since the beginning of the year.
According to details obtained from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), during May at least 77,063 passengers transited through Uganda’s only international airport, which indicated a 10.3 per cent drop from April’s 85,050 passengers.
UCAA further indicated that during May, daily passenger numbers had dropped, averaging at 2,485 per day from 2,835 and 2,693 in April and March, respectively.
The drop comes at a time when Covid-19 cases have surged with some countries issuing travel advisories for passengers seeking travel to Uganda.
UCAA also indicated that 1.98 million passengers had transitioned through Entebbe International Airport in 2019 but the number had in 2020 dropped to 565, 666.
The drop, Mr Vianney Luggya, the UCAA manager public affairs, said was partly due to Covid-19, which forced government to close the airport for more than five months.
Tourism, which is one of Uganda’s largest foreign exchange earners largely depends on international arrivals.
Therefore, the drop is expected to impact the tourism sector, which has been seeking to recover from last year’s March-June lockdown.
Mr Luggya noted that the numbers are likely to drop further unless there is a change to the current surge in Covid-19 cases that have been rising since last month.
Travel has also been made difficult by new requirements, with a number of countries requiring passengers to conduct a PCR test before boarding the areophane and sometimes entering the destination country.
According to the Ministry of Health, a PCR test costs $65 in Uganda.
Already, government has banned travel from some countries including India while it has put it as a requirement for any passenger from UK, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and US to conduct a PCR test on arrival or possess a certificate of proof of full Covid-19 vaccination and show no Covid-19 symptoms.
“Travellers have the option of waiting at the testing site for their results or checking into a designated hotel at their own expense,” the Ministry of Health, said in a recent statement.
Passenger vs cargo through entebbe
On the other hand, cargo arrivals grew in volume with UCAA indicating that 5,329 tonnes were handled through Entebbe International Airport in May compared to 3,992 tonnes in the same period last year.
During April, a total of 5,725 tonnes were handled compared to 5,977 tonnes in March. 4,766 tonnes and 4,911 tonnes were handled in February and January, respectively.
On an annual basis, handled cargo grew from 42,000 tonnes in 2019 to 58,000 tonnes in 2020, much of which, according to UCCA was comprised of agricultural exports such as fruits and vegetables, flowers, fish and fish products, among others.