Zanzibar’s Abeid Amani Karume International Airport now ranks as the fourth-largest airport in East Africa this winter, up from seventh year-on-year growth in numbers.

According to Anna aero an airline network news and data website, Addis Ababa remains top, followed by Nairobi with Dar es Salaam sitting on third, up by one place, while the island nation of Mauritius – which was third – has fallen out of the top-10.

This is despite the fact that Zanzibar’s seat volume has inevitably fallen by approximately 16 per cent.

But while it has reduced numbers should be of concern, this is significantly healthier than the nearly half drop at Nairobi, 36 per cent  at Addis Ababa – and over 450 per cent at Mauritius.

The website attributes Zanzibar’s comparative success to three reasons: a raft of new airlines and routes, and new inbound markets.

Zanzibar has seven new airlines this winter: AZUR Air,  KLM,  Nord Wind,  Royal Flight,  SkyUp, Uganda Airlines,  and UTAir.  Nord Wind, which last operated in the winter 2018, making a return.

KLM started flying into Zanzibar in December 2020 with a twice-weekly service using 294-seat B787-9s.  It operates triangularly: Amsterdam – Zanzibar – Dar – Amsterdam.

Yet it is Russia and Ukraine that has been key during the winter of 2020, with Russians flocking to the Spice Islands.

The two nations now have had almost 209,000 seats at Zanzibar, up from zero last winter – and 40 per cent of the airport’s total.  Their previous winter high – in winter 2018 – was just 7,200.

Eleven Russian and Ukrainian airports are linked to the Tanzanian island, with Moscow Sheremetyevo, Moscow Vnukovo, Kyiv Boryspil the top-three.

While it doesn’t quite fall into winter, Lufthansa is set to launch Frankfurt on 31 March.  It’ll be twice-weekly via Mombasa in both directions.

According to the website, the  coming summer is scheduled to be Zanzibar’s best yet to Europe, with nearly one-third more seats than in pre-pandemic summer 2019.

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