Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has today praised God for the guidance to to buy Airbus A330-800neo aircrafts and not Boeing airplanes that have been crashing and killing people.
Museveni made the statement during the ceremony held at Entebbe VIP Terminal to receive Uganda Airlines first Airbus aircraft. The second one is expected to be delivered next month. Some of the guests who attended the ceremony included, H.E. Jules-Armand Aniambossou, the Ambassador of France to Uganda, Shri A. Ajay Kumar, the High Commissioner of India and UN officials.
According to Museveni, the government had initially wanted to buy Boeing 737 Max airliners but due to God’s guidance and wisdom, the technical team opted for Airbus. On July 28th, 2018, Uganda Airlines represented by Ephraim Bagenda, the then CEO signed a MoU with Airbus for two A330-800neo aircrafts. A year later, that is on April 18th, 2019, Uganda firmed up its order for the two aircrafts.
Safety issues have characterized operations of Boeing 737 Max airliners in the last two years including the October 2018 and March 2019 air crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia respectively. Both crashes killed a total of 346 people. Victims who perished in the Ethiopia crash included Uganda’s Commissioner of Police Christine Alaro. Investigations into the two crashes revealed that the maneuvering augmentation system-MCAS in both aircrafts had malfunctioned, resulting in the deadly air crashes.
Museveni says reviving the national carrier is a one of the ways the government will create jobs and also generate income so that Uganda becomes self-sufficient in various sectors including air travel.
He however says it would have been better if the East African countries had pooled resources for an airline to operate regionally and internationally to the benefit of East Africans. However, since this seems a tall order, Museveni says Uganda Airlines is a solution to the challenges of air bound Ugandans who are often inconvenienced by several stopovers.
Museveni is thereby urging Ugandans and the general public to use Uganda Airlines for both travel and cargo.
He tweeted in the morning saying. “the revived Uganda Airlines will support our economic growth by facilitating transport and tourism. It will be a major boost if the $400m Ugandans spend annually on air travel comes to our own airline.”
Meanwhile, Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport says the arrival of the aircraft is a befitting “Christmas gift from Museveni to Ugandans.”
He also lauded his predecessor, Eng. Monica Azuba who attended the ceremony and other technocrats for their contribution towards the revival of the national carrier.
Cornwell Muleya, the Chief Executive Officer Uganda Airlines says the arrival of the new aircraft is historical because Uganda is the first to receive the A330-800neo, a new version of the A330 series in Africa.
He says the new aircraft and the second one expected next month will allow the airline to operate long haul flights to Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Uganda Airlines had carried over 78,000 passengers between August 2019 to March 2020 from 9 destinations. Since October when commercial flights resumed at Entebbe International Airport, the airline has reopened all the 9 routes due a steady increase in the number of passengers.
Muleya adds that in the last one year, the airline has carried out recruitment and training for its staff to ensure smooth operations.
The airline currently employs 273 staff of whom 227 are Ugandans.
About A330-800neo aircraft
According to a representative from Airbus who attended the ceremony, the A330-800neo aircraft can fly for 14 hours non-stop and has all the latest technology to ensure safe and smooth air travel.
It belongs to the A330 new generation family. The family has two versions-A330-800 and A330-900.
A330-800 aircraft reduces fuel consumption by about 25 percent per seat compared to the A330 airliners in operation. It is also powered by Rolls-Royce’s latest generation Trent 7,000 engines and features a new wing with increased span, a new A330 XWB- inspired sharklets and airspace cabin amenities include passenger inflight entertainment and wifi connectivity systems.
The new aircraft has a total seat capacity of 258 seats configured in three-class layout. Of these, business class with a 1-2-1 layout, has 20 reclinable seats, premium economy has 28 seats with a 2-3-2 layout while economy class has 210 seats in a 2-4-2 layout.
Roger Wamara, the Uganda Airlines Commercial Director earlier told Uganda Radio Network-URN that the airline will start flights at the end of January 2021. Its first flight will be to Dubai-United Arab Emirates.