JKIA posts highest cargo volumes in new continental airports report

David Kipkorir Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) handled the highest cargo volume of all airports in Africa last year, making it a key node for the continent’s connectivity with the rest of the world. The regional aviation and cargo hub has been ranked first among the countries in Africa that handled the largest volumes of both export and import cargo in 2021. According to Airports Council International (ACI), a lobby for airports, JKIA handled 363,204 tonnes of cargo last year, making it a leader in total cargo traffic last year. During the period under review, cargo traffic increased by 11.6 per cent compared to 2020. This came after airlines resumed operations following the devastating Covid-19 pandemic that had led to the grounding of planes. The Annual Africa Airport Traffic Report 2021 released last week showed that 2.15 million tonnes of cargo transited through African airports. This represented around 1.7 per cent of the global cargo volume. JKIA is the flagship airport of the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the largest aviation facility in Kenya and East Africa. Located on the outskirts of Nairobi, the airport is the gateway into and out of the region. According to KAA. It is frequented by over 40 passenger airlines and 25 cargo airlines. The impressive performance is despite the national carrier Kenya Airways’ (KQ) financial woes despite narrowing from Sh11.9 billion to Sh9 billion, according to its latest financial records. KQ is responsible for a large percentage of Kenya’s connectivity to the rest of Africa. The major exports through JKIA include flowers, fish, vegetables and fresh produce. Nairobi was followed by the Cairo International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Egypt. In 2021, it handled 333,536 tonnes of cargo. Oliver Reginald Tambo International Airport (OR Tambo), the biggest airport in South Africa and the hub for South African Airways, came third, with 304,018 tonnes of cargo transiting through it. Addis Ababa Airport is fourth with 226, 417 tonnes. OR Tambo is named after anti-apartheid hero Oliver Reginald Tambo. The airport has a passenger capacity of 28 million annually. Nigeria’s Murtala Muhammed Airport was fifth with 204,649 tonnes of cargo in the year under review. In sixth place is Entebbe International Airport - the largest and the only international airport in Uganda, a landlocked country in East Africa. The airport was opened in 1951 by British colonial authorities. The airport is being modernised at a cost of $586 million (Sh70.3 billion). It’s funded by the South Korean government in three phases. During the period under review, 65,115 tonnes of cargo transited through Entebbe Airport. Other airports in the top 10 are Aeroport Mohammed V (Morocco), Kotoka International Airport (Ghana), Blaise Diagne International Airport (Senegal) and Cape Town International Airport (South Africa).