Why Zanzibar is now the 4th largest East Africa airport

Monday January 25 2021
zanzibar pic

A Boeing 747 rests on the tarmac at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar after flying in with 500 Russian tourists last December. PHOTO | FILE

By Louis Kalumbia

Dar es Salaam. An increase in the number of arrivals and strategies that link tourist attractions in the Mainland and Zanzibar have been cited as factors that have made Abeid Amani Karume International Airport the fourth largest airport in eastern Africa by passenger numbers.

The Zanzibar government and tourism stakeholders yesterday said other reasons were growth in regional tourism, new hotels, good reputation in cultural and beach tourism and improved services at the airport.

According to the Airline Network News Analysis (Anna) website, Addis Ababa remains the region’s leading airport in terms of the number of passengers handled, followed by Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which has climbed one place. Mauritius – which was third in the previous rankings – is now out of the top 10.

Despite the fact that Zanzibar’s passenger traffic volume has fallen by approximately 16 per cent, the airport has moved up from seventh position.

The passenger volume has dropped by nearly half at Nairobi, 36 per cent at Addis Ababa, and over 45 per cent at Mauritius.

The website attributes Zanzibar’s comparative success to three reasons – a raft of new airlines and routes, and new inbound markets.


Yesterday, Zanzibar Airports Authority acting director general Fadhil Juma Ali said Zanzibar’s success in attracting seven new airlines to the isles was a major factor.

He named the airlines as KLM, AZUR Air, Royal Flight, SkyUp, Uganda Air, Enter Air and UTAir, noting that Zanzibar was also reaping rewards following the government’s aggressive promotion campaigns in Poland and Russia.

“Poland and Russia are among Zanzibar’s newest tourism markets that are playing a vital role in Zanzibar’s economy, and we hope that jobs in the tourism sector will increase significantly once the Covid-19 pandemic is over,” Mr Ali said.

Tourism stakeholder, who is also Zanzibar’s Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Mr Simai Mohammed Said, told The Citizen that tourist attractions and cheap packages in Mainland Tanzania also benefit Zanzibar, with about 40 percent of tourists visiting the isles arriving from the other side of the Union.

“Most of those arriving are expatriate communities, mostly Nigerians, Congolese, Rwandans, Egyptians, Algerians Americans and Britons.”