The revived Uganda National Airlines has secured seven regional routes. The routes include Nairobi, Juba, Bujumbura, Dar-es-Salaam, Mombasa, Mogadishu and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Uganda recently secured two Bombardier CRJ 900 planes for the national carrier.
The planes arrived in the country on April 23 and more bigger planes are expected in the country by 2021. These are expected to ply Johannesburg and some European capitals. The carrier is currently having its air operating license processed as well as undergoing through a 3-month safety and security test by the aviation authorities of where they are supposed to land.
As such, the aircraft have been flying to destinations including Kinshasa, Mombasa, Johannesburg and other airports in East, Central and Southern Africa. Jennifer Bamuturaki, the commercial director of Uganda National Airlines, says they are still awaiting clearance and operating certificate from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
She says the airline is the process of setting up a booking office and setting the fares to various destinations before they receive an air operating certificate.
Conwell Muleya, Uganda Airlines chief technical officer said they are working around the clock to see that not only does the airline become competitive, but also the first option for all travellers to and outside Uganda.
He said together with CAA, they are currently negotiating with other countries get air operating certificate to fly in their territories.
Uganda currently has 47 aviation agreements with countries especially on the African continent where Uganda Airlines can fly. Muleya added that they are also working towards getting partnerships with other airlines so that in places that Uganda Airlines doesn’t go to, others can take on their passengers.
Asked whether they will be taking on the cargo handling services that are currently under private hands, Muleya said it’s to early to tell although it would be the most ideal situation as it will increase on the revenue of the airline.
“The aviation sector is relatively new; it’s still evolving. We learn from different regions what it takes to be successful. In the Middle East everything is integrated with airport services, customs, hotels, tours companies; the entire value chain is integrated. It’s not surprising that countries in Africa like Ethiopia are following suit,” Muleya said.
Bamuturaki dismissed claims from some media quarters that the planes are old. She said Uganda is the first country to have that particular type of Bombardier with improved cabins that’s why the manufacturer have been taking it around the continent marketing it.
She added that they have assembled staff that are experienced in the aviation industry ready to give the highest standards of services.
“What we need to focus on is that all these airlines are coming here to pick Ugandans. If we offer competitive prices and services with our hospitality why wouldn’t anybody choose us? We are not coming into the market as the underdogs we are coming to do serious business with partners because for us we don’t have the word competitors,” Bamuturaki said.
She added that they are also going to put in place parameters to see that all government officials fly Uganda Airlines like it’s done elsewhere.
Joseph Lukwago the manager in charge of maintenance and technical services said they are currently training their engineers who will take over the planes once the 90 days that the manufacturer give while still in charge elapse.
“We shall need more engineers and all of them will be Ugandans. We have 24 pilots and all of them are Ugandans. It’s hard to open embassies in the whole world but having an airline is an embassy because it goes everywhere,” Lukwago said.