By December this year, government will have procured four aircraft as efforts to revive the defunct Uganda Airlines take shape.
According to Works and Transport minister Eng Monica Ntege Azuba the four aircraft of Bombardier will have 80-100 passenger chauffeur capacity. The aircraft will arrive and start flying by December, she said.
"We’re starting with four aircrafts and these are Bombardier aircraft. The sitting capacity is 80 to 100 passengers. They are produced by Bombardier which is from Canada. We had a team and it has done studies and a business plan was made - it was found that it would be viable. What I have to tell you is that when you’re in the airline business, you don’t plan on making profits as soon as you you start. So according to the business plan we’ll break even after 4-5 years." said Azuba.
According to Azuba, government will later purchase two Airbus A330 series 800 wide - twin engine propeller aircraft. These will have a 300 sitting capacity each. She said government has already paid a commitment fee of $1.2 million to the Canada-based Bombardier manufacturer and France-based Airbus manufacturer.
Addressing journalists on the NRM manifesto implementation at Uganda National Roads Authority offices in Kyambogo - Kampala, Azuba said government has done a feasibility study and business plan indicating that revamping Uganda Airlines, which was grounded in 2002, will be a viable venture.
However, Azuba said government is cognisant of the fact that they won't make profits in the airline business from the first day. She said government will be innovative after venturing into the airline business by looking beyond passengers and cargo transport.
"When you’re starting an airline, you don’t get funds from passengers only. You have to be innovative, you have ground handling, you have catering services, you have maintenance and all those that fall under the airline. There are other subsidiaries that you have to create and that will come in and these are the ones that support the airline to make sure that it remains in operational and profitable." she added.
She added that the airline will be fully owned by government but will later sell shares to release the pressure from the national coffers.
"These four airlines will be in operation from November-December and the details as to where they’re going to fly, I don’t have the details off hand [but] definitely within the region and that includes Kenya and all other countries we have bilateral agreements with." said Azuba.
Revamping Uganda Airlines was atop of President Yoweri Museveni's must do list after 2016 presidential elections. Inaugurating a cabinet in October 2016, Museveni directed the line ministry to commence work on the task.
"The ministry of Works and Transport is directed to conclude discussions with the investors that can help us to start a national airline.
Museveni argued that "a national airline would help us save $420 million per year that Ugandans spend on travel. The national airline will also create jobs and career opportunities for our children who train as pilots at Soroti Flying School."