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Entebbe Airport gears up for re-opening

COVID-19 dents Entebbe progress

No date has been set for re-opening.  But the public has been exerting pressure on UCAA to re-open the airport. Local tourism players have already asked the government to consider re-opening the airport, saying it is the main gateway into Uganda and an enabler for recovery of all sectors in the economy, including the tourism industry.

Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the president of the Uganda Tourism Association (UTA), noted recently that there is immediate need to re-open the airport to mitigate the negative impact already imposed on the sector.

Kakooza advised the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fast track the standard operating procedures (SOPs).  “The continued closure without a foreseeable date of re-opening is a danger to the economy, businesses, employees’ livelihoods and a big loss to the country,” she said.

Richard Mujjuzi, the chairperson of the Uganda Association of Travel Agents also noted recently that the government should set up a tentative date for the re-opening of Entebbe to enable travelers schedule their bookings to Uganda.

Yogi Biriggwa, the board chairperson of the Airlines Association of Uganda appealed to the government to at least introduce 2-3 flights per week for the aviation industry. Biriggwa said the government delay to re-open the airspace for commercial flights could push some airlines out of business.   “COVID-19 is here to stay; we only need to learn how to stay with it,” she said.

Martha Nansamba, the head of Forever Africa Safari, a local tour and safari agency recently told The Independent that Uganda’s tourism sector will only get back when Entebbe Airport alongside Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Kigali open.

Last month, the East African Business Council (EABC) called upon the East African Community countries to resume commercial flights. Tanzania resumed international flights on May 18, while chartered flights in Rwanda resumed on June 18. Kenya opened domestic travel on July 15 while international flights resumed on Aug.1.

But, in his most recent COVID-19 related address to the nation, President Museveni said “Entebbe Airport would remain closed until the situation abroad settles down.”

As of Aug.10, Uganda was one of 25 African countries whose border points including the airports are still closed according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control.

UCAA officials say traffic (passengers) at Entebbe Airport had been growing steadily over the years. Last year, Entebbe Airport saw 1.98 million passengers go through its gates; a 7.6% increase from the 2018 figure of 1.84 million. The year before, Entebbe Airport had served about 1.65 million passengers.

Basing on these numbers, the airport authorities were ready to see at least two million travelers depart, arrive or go through the airport this year. But, from the current projections, that will not happen.

Passenger traffic in January, this year, had showed good signs of a good year with about 150,000 travelers’ passports stamped, but that number fell by 7.1% in February to about 140,000. That is when the impact of the lockdowns started being felt, Luggya told The Independent. By April, passenger traffic had fallen to a paltry 987 passengers.

Although not as drastic, cargo operations have not done well either. Entebbe Airport registered about 62,000 metric tonnes of cargo in the whole of 2019. It appears the airport may not get similar volumes of cargo this year. According to data from Entebbe Handling Services Ltd (ENHAS), fish, fruits and vegetables are the major products that are exported exclusively by air.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the aviation industry due to travel restrictions and slumps in demand among travelers.  The latest figures from IATA estimated that the airline industry has so far lost US$ 419bn of revenue globally due to the reduced number of passengers and has estimated that full pre-COVID-19 recovery shall happen in 2024.

Before COVID-19, close to 32,000 aircraft movements (landing and take-off) were being registered at Entebbe Airport every year. Every day, there were 90-120 flights out of Entebbe. But when passenger operations were suspended, flight handlers started seeing between 7-14 flights every day, mainly cargo aircraft.

Since the closure of business at the airport, about 8000 staff attached to UCAA and several private companies including; DAS Handling Limited and ENHAS have been hit hard.

Going forward, Luggya says, more protocols and SoPs will come along the way.  Luggya told The Independent that UCAA itself more than anyone else wants Entebbe Airport to open. But even as it works with other government agencies to resume operations, it is cognizant of what is happening in other countries.

He says unlike other government agencies, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority gets all its revenue from the airport operations. Luggya told The Independent that on average the airport operations (passenger service charges, landing charges and parking charges) rake in about Shs 20bn a month but in each of the first two months of the lockdown (March and April), UCAA collected a paltry Shs 1bn.

“The airport and airlines are actually among those that are looking forward to the reopening of the airport.”

“Although an official date is yet to be announced, we are working towards re-opening,” Luggya said, adding that, “Uganda has had a calculated approach to opening up various sectors of the economy.”



  1. Annette Nakibuule

    Thank you for the great work at the airport. We pray the government opens up soon coz our businesses are going down.

  2. We are waiting the date of opening because some of us we came here in terms of vacation from abroad but because of Covid19 we are still stuck here in Uganda,,, and our Visas is going to be expiring,,,hope govt is planning to open soon

    • Bro wakeup people are coming back here in UAE if your resident better wakeup go in town n check up flights r there

  3. We are waiting until museveni Decide

  4. Thanks for the info

  5. Can’t wait the day of re opening because am stuck here and my visa now is expired

  6. Waiting to see it happening

  7. When are we hoping to hear it’s reopening sir,? I really need to come back because I’m stranded and no working since February and you can imagine ☹️☹️

  8. I lost my job here in Duba on 1st April until now am here sitting am praying they open soon thanks for the update

  9. Christine katende

    Please help us to reopen,we are stranded,we need to get back home,

  10. we really appreciate the good work done by his excellency i salute you and am looking forward to hear its finally open and i pray too that whenever our destinations we will have a credit on the way our health team for the great roll bravo

  11. True we need it reopened, we are stuck and home sick,

    Businesses r dying. Hope in the next Sevo can hear this from the crying Bazukulu

  12. So Ugandan government needs a whole year to reopen the airport. Stop behaving like some 20th century leaders! Oooh no, i forgot, papa Museveni doesn’t even belong close to today’s century! Is he watching the developing news in Mali? Fungua airport. We’re sick and tired.

    • @ally vicky get informed and stop comparing Mali with Uganda you have no Knowledge of the internal situation of this nation since 2012 ( last coup) and today situation .
      Mr Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has chosen Life instead of Money ….

  13. Thanks for everything, but we are just waiting for the reopening because we are stranded herr

  14. Kukunda Patience

    Thanks alot for the great work Sir
    We really appreciate
    Can’t wait for the re-opening of the airport because some of us are yearning to start our internship that is if institutions are also opened.

  15. This is great, let the president think about us and open the airport. As taxi drivers, we are jobless and home seated. Even our brothers and sisters are just stuck in other countries

  16. Great, but be warned ,covid 19 is spreading like wild fire at the moment.Ugandans take things for granted!most people think this is a joke. I’m afraid it’s not.

  17. Honestly, good work has been done and we applaud those responsible. Even then, let’s admit that m7 and his people can do so much better. The impact of closed airports has not been properly weighed if not overlooked given the that these measures could have been implemented much sooner.
    But what can we say?
    Like our Indian colleagues say, “This is Uganda” and like Ugandans say, “Uganda Zaabu”.
    If you know, you know.

    • How many other countries do you know that have completely opened their airports?
      In the whole of Africa we have only 4.
      We all feel stuck, but you can only travel when you are alive.
      I’d rather wait a little longer and be safe.

      • You make a good point. If we focus on life preservation, we may as well put everything else to a halt until the virus goes away. But it’s not going anywhere. We have to adopt and be at par with the situation. There is already a working solution for Covid-19, if it were not the case, then we would have zero recoveries but we have had many recoveries over 1000 according MOH. We have been programmed to wait to be told that there is a pharmaceutical cure.
        Yes, Covid-19 is deadly but so is typhoid, malaria and other diseases not to mention hunger. We have lived with these in the same way. We must try to think objectively.

  18. Please open the airports for on going and incoming passengers to travel. We desperately waiting for the day it opens. Please help us.

  19. May almighty God help us

  20. Thanks for the great work I’ve appreciated just waiting for the reopening day coz I’m stuck I wanna come back to Uganda

  21. My husband is stuck in UK he wants to come back but am still waiting for the day that you are going to open so that he can be able to come back

  22. Plz open the Airport, many people are stuck they want to cme back home. Afterall most Airports are open, we will learn to live with Corona bse it wont go now.

  23. We just pray the airport gets opened again

  24. Mr. President we applaud you for all that you are doing. However,we need you to please come to our rescue on the situations abroad especially in Dubai. The Ugandan Consulate is hard to assess online( emails sent acknowledged but not responded to) and on telephone, When you finally go through all sorts of excuses are given. We not sure whether we have been registered because we have no email to prove that we have even after all the requested documents have been submitted! All you hear them say when you finally go through we will call you when the next flight is available only to see on the news that a flight from dubai landed! We are frustrated and I hope you really intervene. There should be priority cases to be considered! Whoever is incharge of the consulate is either not in the know or doesn’t care period! Since April been contacting them till date no flight for me! No one seems to tell you which number you are since they claim registration is for first come basis!
    With this in mind you should also consider reopening so dt we can freely come back home without going through the embassy because it’s tidious and stressful! Are we supposed to pay any money for registration because if it’s the reason y we are being delayed then we ought to be told!

  25. Banange any lugambo about the opening of the airport.Please help us

  26. Masereka Hanington

    The airport should be re-opened and we see how international tourism resumes. we are stack in the tourism industry since the government had forgotten to encourage domestic tourism. Eeeeeeh loans

  27. Akugizibwe Lillian

    Your right 💯% it’s not going anywhere we have to learn how to deal with it.

    Drop your whatsApp number

  29. We praise God to do some miracles on this covid19 because it is making people to be poor.

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