Shrinking customer and cargo base for Eldoret

Despite losing two airline customers in the past two years and recording a continued shrinking of its air cargo throughput from June last year to February this year, Eldoret International Airport (EIA), located at Eldoret, a city in western Kenya, insists that its air cargo business will grow. Wong Joon San reports.

The airport, the third largest in Africa, is only open from Monday to Sunday from 0330hours to 1730hours GMT, but the hours can be extended on request. Currentlythe airport has only three scheduled international cargo flights and a numberof unspecified ad hoc freighters perweek.

EIA, which handled 810 tonnes of cargo last June, has seen its tonnage plunge and only managed 233 tonnes in February, 2010, an airport spokesman confirmed.

Despite the huge drop in cargo throughput and the loss of its airline customers, the airport spokesman, Peter Wafula, says that although the number of airlines may have reduced, he is still optimistic about the growth of EIA’s cargo operations as those remaining had increased capacity, but did not elaborate.

However, a Dubai forwarder, who declined to be named, confirmed local news reports which claimed that strict airport importation rules had forced many businessmen to switch to other airports like Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in eastern Kenya instead of EIA in the past one or two years.

“Businesses do not want trouble, so they just avoided Eldoret for other airports that gave them less problems with their cargo inspections and stringent documentations,” he added.

He pointed out that as business dwindled due to the tightened rules at Eldoret, Cargolux stopped serving the airport in 2007 and a year later, Qatar Air Cargo also stopped its service to EIA due to insufficient cargo business to support its service.