Travel agents in Kigali recorded a significant decline in airline ticket sales for the past month.
Operators say that ticket sales are dwindling as the airlines enter into the traditional “low season” that normally runs from January to April.
The low season follows dramatic sales made during the “peak summer season” which starts with August, a popular month for vacationing till December.
“Generally ticket sales went down last year due to the effects of the financial crisis. Compared to the peak season, sales are now going down since we are entering a different season,” an official of the International Travel Agency (IATA) at Union Trade Centre (UTC) building told Business Times. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of IATA.
IATA currently handles services of five airlines including; Kenya Airways, SN Brussels, Ethiopian Airlines, South African and the national courier RwandAir.
Officials at another agency, Afab Safaris and Travel Agency on Avenue la Paix also echoed low ticket sales even during the peak season last year.
“Last year was a very bad year for airline business but since the economic crisis is over, business should improve,” he said.
However data from the industry’s lobby group, IATA shows an improvement in passenger traffic throughout late last year.
According to IATA, passenger demand went up by 2.1 percent in November 2009 compared to November 2008 while freight demand recorded a 9.5 percent improvement.
“Passenger load factors remain at pre-crisis levels of 75.4 percent while freight load factors stood at 56.6percent.
The improvement trends for both passenger and freight are being exaggerated by the sharp fall in demand experienced during the second half of 2008,” IATA said in a statement released December 30.
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO observed that while demand continues to improve, Airlines still have a lot of ground to recover.
“We cannot anticipate any significant improvement in yields in the coming months.
So, conserving cash, controlling costs and carefully matching capacity to demand remain the keys to survival,” Bisignani said.