ENTEBBE — After a delay to flights that lasted nearly 20 years, Uganda Airlines this year once again took to the skies above Africa, restoring its status as the country’s national carrier.
Commercial services resumed in August 2019 with a flight from Entebbe to Nairobi in neighboring Kenya that the airline hoped will usher in a profitable new era for the formerly debt-ridden brand.
On its inaugural commercial flight, the Uganda Airlines came under fire after it banned taking of in-flight pictures after viral photos, showing handwritten air tickets issued to travelers.
Journalists who were onboard Bombardier CRJ–900 were banned from taking photos after the airline was ridiculed by members of the public and comedians for issuing handwritten tickets in “this generation.”
As that wasn’t enough, the new operator in the market was also castigated by Daily Monitor Public Editor Odoobo Charles Bichachi “for serving Katogo in-flight” — saying it not a cultural event.
Mr. Bichaachi said that he drew to the notice that the airline will be serving Katogo on board — telling off airline management to drop this “sentimentalism and not attempt to mix cultural cuisine with best practices.”
“Katogo! Why do they think Ethiopian Airways does not serve Injera on its flights, or Kenya Airways does not serve Ugali na nyama choma?” he wondered saying that not every food you fancy can be served on a plane.
Mr. Bichachi warned that Katogo is heavy and could leave the aircraft’s seat messy.
Besides, he said that many fliers are not heavy eaters and that it is not even advisable to stuff passengers with such heavy eats.
“Those who want Katogo can be directed to Nalongo’s when they land or restaurants at the airport can be encouraged to prepare Katogo which passengers can eat before boarding,” he said.
Mr. Bichachi advised Airline management to opt for simple things such as Rolex and other light foods.
“As for Rolex, yes that is fine. It is easy, neat, and dry and a passenger need not be served the whole chapati and egg as it can be chopped into pieces,” he said.
Uganda Airlines has since introduced printed air tickets and travelers have also commended the level of service.
In November, the airline launched flights to destinations in south and central Africa despite stiff competition not only from Ethiopian Airlines but also from airlines based in Rwanda and Tanzania. Both Rwanda and Tanzania have also poured cash into their flag carriers in the past few years, though with far less success than Ethiopia.
Uganda Airlines, founded by the country’s former dictator Idi Amin in 1976, was liquidated in 2001 during a push to privatise state firms.
Its revival will “reduce the cost of air transport and ease connectivity to and from Uganda”, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said at the ceremony.
Ugandans spend about $450m annually on foreign travel, and the state-owned airline would help keep some of this cash within the national economy, Rugunda said.
Citizens will also benefit from having direct flights originating near their capital instead of having to take expensive, indirect routes on rival airlines, the prime minister said.