ENTEBBE – The first two Bombardier CJ900 Uganda Airlines planes touched down at Entebbe Airport on Tuesday morning. President Museveni and the First Lady Janet Museveni plus other dignitaries officiated the much-hyped event.
Uganda Airlines delivered the first two of four CRJ900 aircraft ordered by Uganda National Airlines Company in July 2018.
The aircraft are half of the four that will form the foundation of the revived Uganda Airlines which is expected to officially take to the skies by July this year.
The airline will operate in dual-class configuration with 76 economy and 12 first class seats.
Mr. Museveni at the event said one of the reasons he took long to revive the airlines was that “I thought we (East Africa) could share airlines.”
“The old Uganda Airlines died and in the African culture when people die, they are buried. But when old people die new ones are born, so this is the new baby,” he said.
He added Uganda is already a middle income country but “we don’t use the purchasing power parity method, we use the foreign exchange method. Therefore, by starting Uganda Airlines we are going to reduce the foreign exchange expenditure.”
Works and Transport Minister Monica Azuba said the two bombardier planes are expected to complete the Air Operator Certification (AOC certification) process.
She said “this is a mandatory process and for it to be effected, physical presence of jets on land has to take place.”
The revival of the Uganda Airlines was kick started with a feasibility study by the National Planning Authority which reviewed the successes and failures of airlines globally with a bias on Africa and putting in consideration the failure of the previous national carrier.
The report claimed that government loses $540m annually to passengers coming and leaving Entebbe airport using other carriers and thus recommended that with the revival of the airline, Uganda would generate revenue of the same figure in a 15-year period off operational and investment costs.
The National Planning report also recommended the CRJ 900 and Airbus A300-200 series as the most appropriate aircraft types for regional and international operations.
The report dissuaded government from leasing aircrafts stating it was better to buy in order to maximise financial economic benefits.
“Uganda Airlines, the national carrier of Uganda has firmed up its order for two A330- 800 airliners, the latest version of the most popular A330 wide body airliner,” Airbus Company said in a statement.
The Uganda National Airlines Chief Executive, Ephraim Bagenda confirmed the country was on the right course to revive the national carrier.
“We are thrilled to commence our operations with the world’s leading regional jet, and we look forward to providing the most modern passenger experience in regional aviation to the people of Uganda and across Africa,”Bagenda said.