COMMENT | Samson Tinka | “Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive,” author Barry Lopez wrote. This today, applies to Ugandan Airlines, who will definitely need many positive stories to keep in the sky.
On 19th July 21, I travelled to one of the countries in the region for a business engagement. I boarded a Uganda Airlines CRJ 9OO Bombardier at Entebbe at 6am. On board were three cabin crew members, one captain and one first officer in the cockpit. Fortunately, there was another captain in business class, who I sat next to.
I made the most of my opportunity, as this was soon after consecutive negative stories about Uganda Airlines, one alleging that a plane was grounded forover a month, and the other related to shortage of aircraft fuel in Tanzania.
I chose to engage Uganda Airlines as soon as I arrived at the Airport, from check-in counters, through boarding gates, cabin crew team, captain Oloka in the cockpit and the captain that I shared row seats. I queried them with specifically on the negative stories and other related operations of airlines. The feedback, and the completely different stories I got from them, were amazing.
Onboard our flight were over 30 travelers, which by any standard was a fair number for a ‘new’ airline, compared to the competition.
The cabin service from food, drinks, reception, dress code, interpersonal relationship, take off, landing – every bit was superb. Because I was enjoying myself, the journey turned out even shorter. I wish it was an eight hour flight.
The hot Ugandan meal, Wavah Water, Uganda waragi, bananas, Jesa yoghurt that were served all made if feel like home away from home.
The cabin crew observed COVID-19 SOPs and we sat observing social distance, masks on. The cabin crew team that included, Susan, Louis and Pamela Kinani served us with a smile and kept engaging travelers all through to ensure we were all ok. This kind of cabin staff display clearly confirms a better picture back home at Uganda airlines head office.
The captain I sat next to took me through the process of fuelling and refueling that left me wondering how the journalists who wrote about the Ugandan Airlines plane ‘running out of fuel’ got it wrong.
This baby airline like I said in my other article published on 3rd July 21 requires everyone’s support. The economy, including the media sector, benefit from a thriving airlines. It provides jobs to many sectors, from hotels, transport and even the media.
Chris Braddy and Orrin Woodward in their book ‘Launching a leadership revolution’ wrote, “it’s not hard to identify problems in a given situation, ask someone to identify what’s wrong with their church, employer, or neighbours, and you would better be prepared for a long explanation.”
I notice Charles Odoobo Bichachi in his column, Public editor in the Daily Monitor last Saturday title “Uganda Airlines no fuel, the lost truth on airplanes” tried to set the record straight. That’s how it should be, aim with facts, then shoot, not shoot before you aim.
There are many developments that should interest the media. The captain shared some of them.
The onboard captain told me that sooner than later, the airline will start self handling and this will save huge cash that has been spent through outsourcing these services from third parties. The equipment is on ground, recruitment of technical personnel to use these machines is on-going and sooner than later, the airline will self handle itself.
Long Haul flights
I was also informed that the long awaited long haul flights are scheduled to start by September if all goes well. All these are milestones and good stories to tell Ugandans. For how long will Ugandans hype foreign staff, cash, clothes, furniture, language and put down our own? I hope some of us will miss heaven because of pulling our own country. It’s not only Uganda airlines that is facing backlash from Uganda’s media. Uganda has been a role model in handling covid 19 but little space is given to this achievement in our dailies. It’s shameful.
Individually and collectively, we can support by Uganda Airlines through travelling with it, encouraging our friends, in laws and peers to book tickets, provide right resources to work in the airline, to write good and stories that are backed by fact, about it.
As a country we are all shareholders in this airline. The reason Ethiopian airlines have stood test of time is because its looked at by Ethiopian nationals as their own asset and even change of governments has never affected it.
Dear media, spare this young airline for now. Let it celebrate a tenth anniversary and golden jubilee.
Reach out to airline administration for facts, figures, vision, strategy and achievements so that you have balanced reporting and news.
To me who travelled in it on Monday, it was full of joy and satisfaction. I pledge loyalty and patronage as long as the Crane is still in the sky.
Uganda my country, Uganda airlines my airline of choice. To Jenny and team, continue providing leadership and let’s celebrate a tenth anniversary together.
Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo