Domestic air travel plummets 10%


2023 witnessed a decrease of over 76,000 in passenger traffic 2023 witnessed a lower of over 76,000 in passenger visitors

After experiencing a gentle rise following the COVID-19 lockdown, home air journey witnessed a notable lower in passenger visitors in 2023, marking the primary decline in three years.

In response to knowledge from the Ghana Airport Firm Restricted (GACL), home passenger travels totalled 775,662 within the 12 months beneath evaluate, down from 852,101 within the earlier 12 months 2022, marking a 9.9 p.c lower.

Regardless of the constructive outlook projected by regulators and trade consultants, home flights from Accra to the 5 foremost home airports – Wa, Tamale, Kumasi, Sunyani and Takoradi – skilled a shortfall of about 76,439 passengers.

Initially of 2023, trade consultants anticipated that the home aviation sector would preserve a robust development path, signalling a whole restoration from the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a lockdown in 2020.

Reconciled statistics from each the Ghana Airports Firm Restricted (GACL) and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) reveal that home passenger flows surged from 423,718 in 2020 to 722,721 in 2021 and additional to 852,101 in 2022, marking the best figures since 2013.

Final 12 months, nevertheless, witnessed a lower of over 76,000 in passenger visitors.

Upon additional examination of home throughput figures, the 2022 document excessive of 852,101 passengers represents a rise of over 101 p.c in comparison with the 423,718 travels recorded in 2020. Moreover, it displays a 23 p.c rise from the 690,314 passengers seen in 2019, which was earlier than the pandemic.

The statistics additionally confirmed that worldwide journey in 2023 elevated from 1.8 million in 2022 to 2.1 million, marking an increase of roughly 15.8 p.c.

Causes

The decline in home journey has been linked to a single financial issue: the duopoly of operators, AWA and Ardour Air; that are accused of artificially limiting provide to lift costs. The open market nature of the trade limits the regulator’s capability to regulate costs.

Consultants recommend that the lower in accessible seats enabled operators to extend costs by artificially limiting provide. As an example, common fares in USD phrases rose by virtually 50 p.c in comparison with 2019 figures.

Worldwide aviation knowledgeable Sean Mendis clarified that whereas the whole variety of passengers decreased, there was a extra important discount out there’s accessible capability. This means that each AWA and Ardour Air decreased the variety of seats accessible for buy in 2023 in comparison with 2022.

“The market is definitely spilling round 30 p.c of demand on account of inadequate capability being provided by the 2 incumbents. If they will add extra seats on the market or a brand new participant enters the market, the market will develop; and in the event that they don’t, it should stagnate or shrink.

“The demand was most likely increased as a result of the common variety of seats crammed on every flight was elevated from 2022 – however the capability scarcity triggered the entire 12 months figures to be beneath 2022 document highs,” he stated.

Pricing

Mr. Mendis reiterated that the decline just isn’t on account of a lower in demand; the home journey market has remained strong. As a substitute, it highlights the necessity for suppliers to supply their product on the applicable worth level to fulfill shopper demand.

He clarified that Ghana stands out as the one nation globally with over 500,000 annual home passengers, exhibiting constant development in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Due to this fact, regardless of the decline in 2023, the home market stays strong and wholesome.

Earlier years’ efficiency

Initially of 2023, Rev. Stephen Wilfred Arthur, the Director overseeing Financial Regulation and Enterprise Growth at GCAA, credited the noticed development to varied components. These included the institution of the Nationwide Air Transport Facilitation Committee (NATFC), which improved plane and crew, passenger, mail and cargo facilitation at Kotoka Worldwide Airport (KIA), thereby enhancing the general passenger expertise.

Different components included the provision of wholesome competitors amongst airways, stimulating new entrants to the home market, and eliminating monopolies on the regional and worldwide routes.

He emphasised that ongoing enhancements in passenger expertise at Kotoka Worldwide Airport and different home airports, resembling improved amenities in Tamale and Kumasi, together with immediate decision of passenger complaints, had been important for facilitating the restoration course of.

Manner ahead

The regulator holds the obligation to make sure airways are adequately funded to keep up security within the native market. Nonetheless, present circumstances enable new entrants or extra capability to swiftly be a part of the market. Whereas customers could really feel slighted, consultants argue that the state of affairs may worsen if airways had been to go bankrupt and stop operations altogether.



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