KAMPALA – Uganda Airlines has secured routes and is set to start business by July. Officials from the airlines on Monday 6 confirmed that the carrier is ready to fly by July 2019 starting with seven routes in Africa.
The inaugural routes include Nairobi, Juba, Bujumbura, Khartoum, Mogadishu, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and later Johannesburg. Jennifer Bamuturaki the Uganda Airlines Commercial Director told journalists that they had carried out research before coming up with those flight destinations around the continent.
“You cannot come up with a schedule without doing route research. During the research, we interfaced with various stakeholders including travel agents, corporates and many others before confirming the routes are viable,” Ms Bamuturaki said.
Bamuturaki explained that the national carrier will not look at the competition in the first days but the numbers to sustain the routes and this she said will reciprocate into business when the airbuses start their international operations.
The commercial director added that the national carrier will be a serious player in the airlines business. “We are not coming into the market as underdogs but as serious players,” she said.
She added that as part of the efforts to see a vibrant national carrier, Uganda Airlines has recruited experienced Ugandans who have been working for various airlines around the world.
Bamuturaki urged Ugandans to support the national carrier and added that all products to be consumed on the airline are locally produced but they must meet required standards
“We have talked to fashion designers, water companies and cushion manufacturers among others because we want everything to be locally made but following standards,” she said.
Michael Kariisa, the airline’s manager in charge of quality assurance said, unlike many new airlines, all the staff recruited have a rich background working at established national carriers.
“We are not just picking anyone from the street but rather experienced people,” Kariisa said.
Cornwell Muleya the airline’s Technical Advisor, said the national carrier has come at the right time when the continent is integrating and citizens easily access various countries without many restrictions which he said is an added advantage.
“We shall create a hub at Entebbe by ensuring the CRJ900 jetliners fly passengers from various destinations on the continent to Uganda and from here the Airbuses will fly them to long destinations,” Muleya added.
Muleya added that the airline has already entered bilateral agreements with 47 airlines which allow the national airline to fly directly to those destinations.
The national carrier collapsed 20 years ago but government three years back kick-started the process of its revival.
This started with a feasibility study by the National Planning Authority reviewing the successes and failures of airlines globally with a bias on Africa and putting into 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.