The recently relaunched Uganda Airlines took delivery of another Airbus A330neo on February 2, completing the first phase of the airline’s revival plan whose target was having six aircraft.
The two Airbus are earmarked to serve on long-haul routes to Mumbai, Dubai, Guangzhou and London, but these plans will have to wait longer following new travel restrictions. London and Dubai have introduced new travel restrictions due to a surge in Covid-19 infections and the rise and spread of a new variant of the disease in some parts of the world.
“We can only fly when the markets at our destinations are open. We will have to wait until those markets reopen,” said Cornwell Muleya the airlines’ chief executive.
Mr Muleya is however upbeat that they could launch the new routes in the first quarter of this year, if all goes well. The airline will also have to wait for close to 60 days to have the two new aircraft certified for flying by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.
Ownership and funding
The airline is fully owned and funded by the government, with 50 percent shareholding each by the ministries of Works and Transport.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said that the government will consider reducing funding now that it has finished the revival stage, which targeted buying of fleet and he advised the management to focus on making money to sustain some operational costs going forward.
“I want this airline to make money and therefore I am appealing to the technical officers and the managers. I know it’s hard for the aviation industry to make money in the beginning, but we should have a strategic plan on how to turn this business into a profitable one,” Mr Kasaija said.
The one-year-old airline operates a fleet of four Bombardier CRJ900 on shorter regional routes. Currently, it flies to eight destinations in six countries — Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Juba, Mogadishu, Kinshasa, Bujumbura, Kilimanjaro — with Lusaka and Johannesburg lined up.
Uganda has signed bilateral air service agreements with 47 countries around the world.