An airline for Ugandans
Of interest were remarks made by Minister of Works and Transportation, Eng. Monica Azuba, who explained that Uganda is a non-coastal country and the aviation industry will guarantee the country direct international access.
“[The] Government’s objective is to ensure that Uganda’s air links makes it one of the best connected countries in the world, so that it can compete for economic growth opportunities. To achieve this objective, [the] Government came up with a strategy to leverage Uganda’s geographical location to become a regional hub for air transport,” – Monica Azuba
Azuba also brought up the fact that Ugandan passengers were getting inconvenienced on other carriers due to scheduling changes. The result is that Ugandans must wait long hours to get to their destinations, she claims. The minister also noted that even short journeys, Entebbe to Arusha, for example, take several hours longer because of connection times.
Furthermore, Azuba says that setting up a national airline will enhance the country’s competitiveness by reducing the cost of air transport as well as reducing connectivity issues to and from Uganda.
The Uganda Airlines fleet
In April of this year, two Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft ordered in July 2018 were delivered. The new airline’s CRJ900s have the ATMOSPHÈRE cabin for its upcoming debut, making it the first operator in Africa with this enhanced cabin experience. Currently, these two aircraft comprise the entire fleet of the airline.
“We are thrilled to commence our operations with the world’s leading regional jet, and we look forward to providing the most modern passenger experience in regional aviation to the people of Uganda and across Africa,” – Ephraim Bagenda, CEO, Uganda National Airlines.”
Earlier this year, Uganda Airlines also firmed up their order for two A330-800neo aircraft for their medium- and long-haul routes. The aircraft can fly up to 8,150 nautical miles and will utilize Rolls-Royce’s Trent 7000 engines.
Uganda Airlines will operate these large aircraft from its hub at Entebbe International Airport. Uganda Airlines has indicated a few long-haul routes that they could serve:
Unfortunately, we do not yet have a delivery date for these widebodies.
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Officials say the government is undertaking “many interventions in the aviation sector” which aim to develop Uganda as an aviation hub. This includes upgrading and expanding the infrastructure and facilities at Entebbe International Airport.
The official launch is nearing…
We’ll have to wait and see how this airline will actually perform. For the first two Bombardier aircraft, commercial operations should commence later this month:
“We promised that the first flights of our airline will be on 31st July and we are still standing by that date…We have started advertising the routes, so we should be ready to go by 31st July, we didn’t say 1st July, we said 31st July.” – Katumba Wamala, State Minister for Works
According to PML Daily, the Government confessed that it will take Uganda Airline ten years to make profits. This means that 2029 is the likely year the airline will become profitable.
Uganda’s GDP is roughly one-third of its eastern neighbor Kenya. Furthermore, the airline will have to compete with airlines like Kenya Airways and the African powerhouse that is Ethiopian.
Do you think the country’s plans for the airline are too ambitious? Is this a case of national pride more than untapped economic potential? Or do you think there will be a bright future for the airline? Let us know by leaving a comment!