Nairobi is the only city in Africa whose domestic air travel capacity is outgrowing its international capacity

Overall, the East African region noted to have received a strong growth of 14.3 percent for 2017 to date with the international arrivals this year being 16.4 percent ahead of last year.

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According to Travel Intelligence firm, Forward Keys, Nairobi city is the only city in Africa whose domestic air travel capacity is outgrowing its international capacity.

Nairobi’s domestic air travel grew by 22 percent in 2017 year to date, higher than its closest competitors Tunis and Addis Ababa, which grew by 14 and 9 percent respectively.

“Comparing to the African performance per origin continent, EAC destinations were more appreciated by intra-African travelers while welcoming a better growth in Middle East arrivals,” reads the report.

Nairobi airports have a total scheduled capacity of 18 percent in domestic seats and 31 percent in long-haul international seats between August and December 2017.

The ‘city in the Sun’ as Nairobi likes to refer to itself owes it to its resilient economy and Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways woes.

Dennis Kibet, a commercial pilot based at Wilson airport considered one of the best little-known airports in world attributes the rise in domestic flights to Kenya’s rapidly growing middle class .

“KQ’s domestic flights actually gives them more revenue than its international flights because first, KQ troubles and unfriendly rates has put off a lot of Kenyans who now prefer to fly with international airlines like Emirates because of their friendly packages and overall services quality, Kenya’s rapidly growing middle class who value time and have capital to spend are also flying more frequently than driving especially within the country and finally Kenyans are now more informed about flying in general how safe it is, its comfort advantages and overall package that comes with flying”  he told Business Insider SSA.

The situation has been compounded more by Kenyan politicians who have in recent years all jumped on board and bought personal helicopters or prefer flying over using roads.

Kibet adds that the demand for domestic flights is so high in Kenya right now that flights schools and private pilots have had to be relocated to Orly Airpark in Kajiado County to give space for more commercial flights.

There are 6 new routes scheduled for the rest of 2017 for EAC. As such, Nairobi will be linked to Muscat with 4 weekly flights by Oman Air starting this month, while there will also be a new route from Yemen.

“Dar Es Salaam lost the flights to Muscat in January, causing the significant overall decrease of 12 percent in long-haul international capacity.”

Overall, African destinations were noted to have enjoyed a one-year long recovery after the health and security concerns in 2014 and 2015 gradually faded.

Egypt and Tunisia are the destinations leading the recovery while Nigeria was the only under-performing country among the top 10 as its intra-African arrivals declined along with its intra-African capacity decline.

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