For the last two months travel agents in the city have recorded low sale of airline tickets according to a mini-survey done by the Business Times.
Operators say that the situation has been worsened by the prevailing global financial crisis. Most global markets which are frequent travel destinations for traders have been forced to close due to the crisis forcing traders to travel less frequently.
“Most people are not travelling because they purchased in bulk for holiday season. However we are also aware of the effects of the global recession,” Bruk Endeshaw, the Area Manager of the Ethiopian Airlines said.
He added that though the crisis has not yet directly affected the Ethiopian Airlines, the company is on alert.
“We are aware that the number of passengers will decrease. But for us as a pioneer African Airline we are still doing well and have not yet made any losses ,” Endeshaw said.
“Whether it is low or peak season operational costs do not change .We must ensure that even if it is not profitable we meet the operational costs and give our customers satisfaction,” he added.
Mutangana Faustin a Sales Executive with Satguru Travel and Tours Agency in Kigali, also admitted that ticket sales have declined in the last couple months .
“We are not selling as many tickets like before. Most people are not travelling now perhaps because of the huge expenditure during the holiday season,” he said. He cited that ticket sales have dropped from about 300 tickets a day to 100 in the low season.
However, Mutangana expressed optimism that business is likely to pick up beginning of June. Brussels Airlines (SN Brussels) has announced an extra flight to Kigali.
However the extra flight will be administered only during the peak summer season, starting from June 7 to September 27, 2009.
Another agency, Afab Safaris and Travel Agency said that business has been slow since the beginning of the year.
Data from the industry’s lobby group, International Air Transport Association (IATA), shows that there is less traffic as compared to last year during the same period.
According to a press statement issued by IATA dated on the 26th of February this year international passenger demand fell by 5.6 percent in January 2009 compared to the same month in 2008.
It is also a full percentage point worse than the 4.6 percent year-on-year drop recorded in December.