The profile of East African region has raised a rung higher, as one of its airports, has been shortlisted for the World Routes Marketing Awards.
Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), Tanzania's second largest airfield, is among the worlds' airports that have been nominated for the global awards to be announced in Chicago next month.
KIA competes with Tampa and Abu Dhabi International Airports as well as the City Airport Bremen, this year's overall winners of the Americas, Asia and Europe heats respectively.
"We hope to fight off stiff competition to the top in the prestigious global award in September 2014 in Chicago" says Christine Mwakatobe, the Business Development Manager for Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO); a firm entrusted to run KIA.
The World Routes Marketing Awards recognizes excellence in air service development by airports, and exclusively the airline network planning community normally votes for the winners.
It is understood, airlines over the past few months have been voting for the airports they feel have made the most efficient use of their marketing over the last 12 months.
According to Ms. Mwakatobe, the shortlisted airports have been contacted and asked for a submission to support their nomination.
"This submission process is designed to enable the shortlisted airports to provide information for the judging panel as to why we think we should win the award, providing evidence to support our case" she *says.*
Late June 2014, KIA was crowned overall winner of the Routes Africa Marketing Awards for the second year running during the fourth-edition-of the Routes Africa Networking evening took place at the Elephant Hills Hotel & Resort in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Mattijs Smith, Managing Director of KADCO said: "We are very delighted and proud to win the overall Routes Africa award for the second year in a row. This award is a true recognition by our airline customers for strengthening our existing routes and achieving a record growth of 24 percent in traffic in 2013."
"We are now working even harder not only to maintain this status, but also to improve our services in order to become the world's best airport and terminal of choice in the East African region," Mr Smith added.
Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), the Tanzania's largest airport in Dar Es Salaam, handles an average of 1.5 million passengers in a year, but with KIA recording 24 per cent increase in annual traffic, coupled by the fact that the terminal will be undergoing massive upgrading and expansion from 2015, Kilimanjaro is set to steal Dar es Salaam's passenger flow.
KIA, which opened for business in 1972, was designed to handle about 200,000 passengers but now handles about 900,000 annually.
Massive expansion, rehabilitation and upgrading project will start in early 2015, after which the terminal is expected to be able to compete JNIA and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport of Nairobi in Kenya.
KADCO Director of Operations and Technical Services, Mr Christopher Mukoma, explained that the airport upgrading would include expansion of terminal buildings, increasing the length and width of runaways, as well as establishing other essential services at the terminal.
The Netherlands' government is assisting in the KIA's expansion programme by providing $36.4 million The Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) on the other hand, has also been a frequent user of the airport for many years.
KIA currently handles a total of 12 scheduled airlines in addition to many other unscheduled charter planes and other flying crafts, but before the end of this year, it is expected that KIA will be a landing site for nearly 20 airlines.
The annual routes awards are highly regarded as the most prestigious awards in the industry as they are voted for and judged by the airline network planning community.
They provide the airline community with the chance to have their say as to which airport or tourism authority they think provides the best overall marketing services to them.
Katie Bland, Director Routes for UBM Live said: "We were delighted with the high level of submissions and congratulate all those that were nominated, those recognized as highly commended by the panel of judges and of course all of the section winners".
Bland added that KIA has once again shown how seriously it takes network development and their submission included examples of their marketing material and their dedication to improving routes to their airport.
KIA was also named as the winner from the under four million passengers category, with Durban King Shaka International Airport honoured from the over four million passengers category and Madagascar Tourism Board ranked top in the Destination Marketing Category.