Uganda Airlines’ Rare Airbus A330-800neo Comes Out Of Paintshop

On Friday, we got a glimpse of Uganda Airlines’ A330-800neos complete with livery. The airline says the aircraft is on schedule for delivery in December. Meanwhile, the country has just reopened for international flights, and its national carrier hopes to be flying to Johannesburg within the next few weeks.

Uganda Airlines Airbus Aircraft
Uganda Airlines’ A330-800 has received its livery and is on schedule for delivery in December. Photo: Airbus

Rare but beautiful

One of Uganda Airlines’ two A330neos has rolled out of the paintshop. The rare A330-800 widebody plane looks stunning in the East African flag-carrier’s livery. Once the new long-haul jets have joined the revived airline’s fleet, the carrier plans to deploy them on routes to Dubai and London.

The aircraft, manufactured at Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse, has been registered as 5X-NIL. Uganda Airlines confirmed today that its delivery for December remains on schedule.

Uganda Airlines’ Rare Airbus A330-800neo Comes Out Of Paintshop
The revived Uganda Airlines commenced operations in August last year. Photo: Omar Abdisalan via Flickr

Start-up and flag-carrier

Uganda Airlines only commenced operations in August last year. The airline, both a start-up and a national carrier, currently only has four Bombardier CRJ-900s in its fleet. It usually operates routes throughout East Africa but has been granted permission to go to Johannesburg. Operations to the South African metropolis were initially scheduled to begin in March but are now set to commence within the coming weeks.

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Why is the aircraft rare?

The A330neo is the latest version of Airbus’ widebody jet, launched in July 2014. It has two versions; the A330-800 and the A330-900. Uganda Airlines’ plane is of the former model, slightly smaller than its sibling but with a longer range.

Thus far, Airbus has sold only 14 of the A330-800, which makes Uganda’s new jet rare indeed. The A330-900, on the other hand, has proved more popular. Airbus has sold 318 of the model and delivered 49 of them up until now. Delta Air Lines was the launch customer for the A330-900, putting in an order for 35 in November 2014. Thus far, it has taken delivery of seven, three of which are currently listed as parked.

Uganda CAA - Vianny Luggya
Uganda CAA’s Vianny Luggya believes the growth of Uganda Airlines is key to increasing traffic to Entebbe. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

The current situation in Uganda

Entebbe International Airport only reopened for international flights on October 1st, six months after the country closed its borders. There is still a curfew in place between 21:00 and 06:00. Anyone traveling by air between these times is allowed to proceed to their destinations if in possession of a valid boarding pass and ticket. Drivers picking someone up or dropping someone off have to be able to prove they are coming from or driving to the airport.

Uganda has done well thus far in keeping the pandemic at bay. With a population of 43 million people, at the time of writing, it had only seen 10,117 cases and 96 deaths. What the long-term implications for its economy will be as a result of the lockdown is yet to be seen.

In an interview from last year, Vianney Luggya, head of Public Relations for Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said that he believes the growth of Uganda Airlines will be essential to bring more traffic into the country in the long-term.

What do you think of the A330-800 in Uganda Airlines livery? Let us know in the comments.