Air passenger traffic plunges 60% in 2020

Pandemic-induced restrictions to international travel caused a sharp fall in the number of passengers that moved through the Kotoka International Airport in 2020, with international traffic hitting its lowest level in almost two decades.

International passenger traffic fell from 2.1m in 2019 to 702,651 in 2020, a reduction of 1.4m, or 66.7 percent, according to data from the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), the nation’s airports operator.

On the domestic front, traffic was over 266,000 lower in 2020 compared with 2019, representing a decline of 39 percent from 690,314 to 423,718. This was however better than the passenger flow of 415,158 in 2018.

Total passenger traffic for both domestic and foreign travels dropped by 1.7m, or almost 60 percent, from 2.8m to 1.1m within the period. As a result, government revenue from the sector dipped by 64 percent, from GH¢521.3m in 2019 to GH¢185.3m in 2020, a bleak situation that informed a modest revenue projection of GH¢198.8m for this year.

Government’s six-month shutdown of the international airport as part of efforts to control the importation of the Covid-19 virus into the country was the main contributor to the steep decline in traffic.

The situation mirrored the global trend, as the number of scheduled passengers boarded by the global airline industry dropped by 61 percent last year to just over 1.7bn people. The crisis pushed many airlines to the brink of bankruptcy, with some receiving government bailouts to stay afloat.

According to leading market and consumer data provider Statista, the number of scheduled passengers handled by the global airline industry had increased in all but one of the last 15 years.

The harsh impact of the pandemic on Ghana’s aviation industry was also felt in freight tonnage, which is the volume of cargo that is moved by air.

Total freight tonnage was 43,428 tonnes last year, down by 12.8 percent from the 49,846 tonnes that was recorded in the previous year and the lowest since 2002.

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