The carrier takes on Kenya Airways, RwandAir, Air Tanzania and Ethiopian Airlines which dominates the new routes
Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Uganda’s national carrier, Uganda Airlines, is set to tighten competition in the East Africa’s aviation market with the unveiling of new routes.
The carrier has announced plans to introduce direct flights to Dubai in the Middle East, London in the United Kingdom, Guangzhou in China and Mumbai in India, taking on Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir and Air Tanzania which have dominated these routes for years.
“We are going places this new year, from Entebbe to popular destinations around the world… Dubai, London, Guangzhou, Mumbai… coming soon,” the airline said on its twitter handle on Jan.04.
This comes few weeks since the carrier started flights to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Dec.18, serving the route initially three times a week – Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
The carrier has also confirmed that Johannesburg, South Africa route, via Lusaka, Zambia, remains in focus for the rollout of the next phase of network expansion. Uganda Airlines aim to not only capture traffic from Uganda to South Africa and back following the withdraw of South African Airways on the route in Feb 2020, but also sell connections from South Africa via Entebbe to the planned long haul destinations in the Middle East, Europe and China.
Currently, Uganda Airlines flies to eight destinations in the East African region including Mogadishu, Somalia, Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, Bujumbura in Burundi and Juba in South Sudan, among others.
Uganda Airlines early this month received the first of its two Airbus A330Neo aircrafts to kick-start the long haul commercial flights. The new Airbus A330-800Neo, a first for Uganda and Africa, will soon be deployed across the network soon to showcase the new aircraft to corporate clients and travel agents at African destination airports a head of commencing flights.
Receiving the aircraft, President Yoweri Museveni said the new state-of-the-art machine will facilitate the country’s economic growth and boost the tourism industry.
Currently, tourism is one of the country’s largest foreign exchange earner, attracting approximately 1.6million tourists, and earning the east African nation slightly over US$1.5bn per annum.
“The revived Uganda Airlines will support our economic growth by facilitating transport and tourism,” he said.
“It will be a major boost if the 400 million U.S. dollars Ugandans spend annually on air travel comes to our own airline.”
Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, minister for Works and Transport, said the new aircrafts will allow Uganda Airlines to efficiently expand its network from its Entebbe hub to connect Uganda to the rest of the world.
“The delivery heralds a new era in the operations of Uganda Airlines and marks its re-entry into the long-haul overseas market,” he said.
Cornwell Muleya, chief executive officer of the Uganda Airlines, said receiving the aircraft marks history in the operations of the Uganda Airlines.
“We are excited about the delivery of the new A330neo which strengthens our fleet capacities and introduces the desired service standards for our long haul,” he said.
Uganda Airlines was revived last year, with the acquisition of four Bombardier CRJ900. The carrier, which was started by the then president the late Iddi Amin in 1976 collapsed and liquidated in 2001 under President Yoweri Museveni.
Boost tourism in the Middle East and Asia
Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer at the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) said the tourism promotion agency is excited about this just-in-time launch of flights to especially the Middle East and Asia.
She said while Europe has been the country’s traditional source of tourists, the Middle-East and Asia are emerging tourist markets that the agency has actively targeted in the recent past with promising results just before Covid-19 struck in March this year.
“International experts have told us that in the context, of the economic consequences of Covid-19 on economies and household incomes, the cost of travelling to individual destinations and cost at those destinations, will have an enormous impact on travel decisions in short to medium term,” she said.
“As such, the availability of direct flights to Uganda aboard the A330neo that is said to offer “unbeatable economics, increased operational efficiency and superior passenger comfort” should give Destination Uganda a competitive advantage.”
Uganda Airlines and UTB have already signed a memorandum of understanding to combine efforts to promote the tourism potential of Brand Destination Uganda.