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  May 13, 2024   admin

Quarter 1 of 2024 witnessed airlines roaring back to pre-pandemic levels of connectivity setting a stage for an optimistic 2024, with expectations of reaching “an historic high”, with 4.7 billion air passengers globally, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

This projection exceeds not just 2023’s total of 4.4 billion, but also the pre-pandemic 2019 total of 4.5 billion. The primary concern that the industry continues to grapple with is the significant increase in fuel prices globally. This has the potential to affect the entire industry negatively, as it has a direct impact on airline operating costs which translates into higher ticket prices. Zambia’s aviation industry performance is reflective of this impressive start to 2024 as there was a significant increase in both international and domestic passenger traffic leading to a recovery of 119% to pre COVID-19 in the first quarter of the year.

The overall trend in passenger numbers is promising and optimistic. Demand for air travel to key business and tourist destinations from Lusaka remains upbeat. In the quarter under review, Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL) served 482,400 general passengers, this represents an increase of 20% when compared to the 403,478 passengers recorded in Q1 of 2023 and a recovery to pre COVID-19 levels of 119% when compared to the 404,581 passengers recorded in 2019. The highest recovery rate was at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) at 133% recovery and the least was at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport (HMNIA) at 71% recovery. International passengers recovered by 116% with KKIA recording the highest recovery of 133%. HMNIA which mainly serves the tourism industry continued with a slow pace to recovery at only 55%, an increase of 8 percentage points when compared to the same period in 2023.

The notable increase in international passenger numbers was attributed to various events with many taking place in March 2024. Some of the events include the hosting of the Extraordinary Summit of the Organ Troika, Plus SADC Troika which was preceded by the Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) & the meeting of the Senior Officials of the MCO as well as the Extraordinary Meeting of Interstate Defence and Security Sub Committee (ISDSC). Domestic passengers recovered by 133% with all airports surpassing pre COVID-19 passenger levels. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport (SMKIA) recorded the highest recovery of 156% as the Lusaka-Ndola route was the busiest in the period under review.

The positive domestic performance continues to be driven by the competitive pricing being offered by domestic airlines for flights to and from Lusaka. Furthermore, it is predicted that domestic performance will continue on an upward trajectory as a result of the opening of the Lusaka – Kasama route that commenced in March 2024. The continued hosting of various meetings in Livingstone by Professional Bodies has also continued to be a significant contributor to domestic passenger performance. 3,987 tonnes of cargo and mail passed through ZACL airports in Quarter 1 of 2024, representing a negative growth of 8% when compared to 2023 when 4,205 tonnes were recorded. The rate of recovery to 2019 levels when 5,101 tonnes were recorded was at 78%. Looking ahead, trade and tourism will remain key drivers of growth, fuelled by the hosting of diverse events like meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions. Additionally, the introduction of flights to Kasama will further boost domestic travel.

As Zambia Airports Corporation Limited, we will continue to collaborate with key industry stakeholders to enhance Zambia's appeal as an affordable and attractive destination. Our focus remains on ensuring seamless air travel experiences, which will in turn attract more business tourism, including meetings and conferences. About Zambia Airports Corporation Limited Zambia Airports Corporation Limited was established in 1989 through the amendment of the Aviation Act, Chapter 444 of the Laws of Zambia which has been repealed and replaced by the Aviation Act No. 5 of 2016. It is also incorporated under the Companies Act No. 10 of 2017. The Corporation’s mandate is to develop, maintain and manage the four designated international airports, namely Kenneth Kaunda in Lusaka, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe in Ndola, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula in Livingstone and Mfuwe, plus select provincial aerodromes and the provision of Air Navigation Services within the Zambian Airspace.

For further information contact:
Mweembe Sikaulu (Ms) Communications and Brand Manager;
cell: +26 0964 629463