Passengers flying in and out of Uganda face higher ticket prices after the Civil Aviation Authority announced an increase in ground handling charges at the Entebbe International Airport.
The new tariff structure, effective November 1, will see Boeing 737 passenger aircraft pay $1,200, up from $1,100, while Boeing 767s will pay $2,100, up from $1,836.
Under the new tariff plan seen by The EastAfrican, small aircraft of 50-100 passenger capacity will pay $800, up from $500.
The charges for handling cargo have also been revised upwards depending on the type and maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft.
“Transit flights and turnaround flights [are] to be charged the same rates,” says CAA’s new tariff structure, adding that technical handling will be charged 50 per cent of the published tariff, with minimum chargeable being $300.
Ground handling services at airports include check-in, baggage handling, cargo handling, aircraft cleaning, loading and off loading of food and beverages and provision of electricity backup to aircraft while they are at airports.
Other services include supply of water to the carrier, ferrying passengers to and from the aircraft, and maintenance of toilets.
Ground handling services at Entebbe are provided by three firms — Dairo Air Services (DAS) Handling Ltd, Entebbe Handling Services (Enhas), and Air Uganda Handling Services (AUHS).
CAA corporate affairs manager Ignie Igunduura confirmed the new rates to The EastAfrican.
“We do periodic reviews of charges — upwards or downwards,” he said.
Executives in the aviation industry in Uganda said they are yet to receive the new tariffs, but noted that any adjustments upwards will in turn be passed on to passengers.
“It is obvious that any increase in the costs of services at Entebbe airport will automatically be passed on to the travellers inform of increased air ticket prices to meet operational costs and also make profits,” a source said.
The source added that the increase in tariffs at Entebbe airport will reduce its competitiveness against regional peers such as Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which currently charges $1,000 for Boeing 737s. In Burundi, the charges range between $350 and $450 depending on the weight and size of the aircraft.
The new charges come at a time when airlines are struggling to grow passenger numbers, which have been impacted by high fares.
Latest data from the International Air Transport Association shows that whereas African carriers grew 4.8 per cent in June, stronger than the year-to-year average of 3.2 per cent, passenger numbers grew merely 0.3 per cent because of a slowdown in some African markets.
DAS Handling Ltd managing director Marc Deleu said CAA was compelled to revise the handling charges because there have been changes since 1996, when the last review was done.
“It is 18 years since the current tariffs came into existence yet we now have new regulatory requirements, new types of equipment required in handling different types of aircraft, and this needs investment,” Mr Deleu said.
Kenya Airways is the biggest client of DAS Handling.