June 6—Over the weekend, President Yoweri Museveni, hosted a team from Airbus, the multinational aircraft maker, spelling out the reasons why reviving Uganda Airlines is a good idea starting with the potential customers.
“There are thousands of Ugandans in the Diaspora, the Indian community estimated above 30,000, booming business and regional trade,” he said. The President said internal travel would also be be made more convenient by having a national airline.
Uganda Airlines was wound up during 2001 when the government could no longer continue subsidising the carrier which was beset by aging equipment, high operational costs and spiraling debts. The President assured his visitors it will not be the same with the revived carrier.
Museveni said Ugandans on Kyeyo (Diaspora) and travelers from Canada, USA and India cannot access direct flights to Entebbe without unnecessary stopovers. He said people have busy schedules and are often inconvenienced by these roundabout flights to Uganda. This is a key element that affects tourism numbers to Uganda.
Airbus, which based in Toulouse, France is owned by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company. It manufacturers a wide range of equipment from 100-seat jetliners to the double-deck A380 that is capable of transporting 600 passengers.
“We expect it (revived airline) to boost domestic tourism, exports and enable easy travel across the world,” Museveni said. He also highlighted the advantages to exporters of fresh produce by the availability of direct flights.
Capt. Mike Mukula, whose business interests include the local aviation industry said, “An airline greatly supports other vital sectors of the economy such as tourism and creating jobs for those in the aviation industry. For this reason, Government should go out to revive the national carrier. I was at an interview session for the
inflight crew. They wanted less than 50 but hundred showed up.”
Mukula said to re-establish the national airline will give trainee pilots, engineers, traffic controllers and in-flight crew opportunities which are limited at present.
Meanwhile, not along ago, the government purchased four small aircraft to boost Soroti Flying School so that it could also serve the Anglo-speaking parts of Africa. “The restoration of the flying school will go a long way in solving the problem of lack of skilled manpower – which is one of the leading causes of air transport accidents in Africa,” Ronald Lodyong, the acting director said.
He said, “There is an urgent need to train more pilots and aircraft engineers, because a great number of pilots working today are nearing their retirement age. And the newly discovered oil drilling is bound to require more aviators. As incomes improve, aviation is a means of transport of convenience and time saving. Time conscious travelers have no option but to fly,” he said.
“In a period of a few years, we have witnessed several carriers including Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Gulf Airline launching flights into and out of Uganda. They come in addition to numerous feeder airlines comprising, Rwandair, Kenya Airways and Precision Air that have been involved in fleet and route upgrading.”
In response to more traffic, the CAA is expanding and remodeling Entebbe International Airport and doubling parking spaces on the apron from the current 11 to 22. It is also planning for a second runway to accommodate bigger planes.