COMMENT | Samson Tinka | Late last month, I took a journey to UAE for a business engagement. As a patriot, country comes before my personal needs, so firmly on my schedule was to find out the impact Uganda airlines has had on the economy and perceptions of the country by passengers and in the UAE. I have always had it in mind that if Uganda prospers, I will also benefit straight away.
My assignment for country started as soon as I boarded. Despite booking business class, I opted to seat with economy and premium class passengers to get feedback on both Uganda Airlines services to its passengers and its impact on the economic, social and political landscape.
I asked passengers why they travel with Uganda Airlines, how they rate the cabin and passenger services. I delved into whether it was worth having a national carrier, how does Uganda airlines services compare with other African airliners?
The feedback was warm and humbling. What came out clear was three things namely, cabin service ratings was very high, ability to connect from Entebbe to Dubai direct and relatively affordable fares. Ideally, these pointers are so good for a ‘young’ airline and when maintained and built on, sustainability of the airline would be achieved.
Secondly, what came out clearly was that Uganda Airlines rates with the very best in terms of services, look and feel, customer care, favorable schedules, baggage allowed weights etc. The business fraternity seem satisfied with the direction the airline is taking.
Uganda airlines offers 4 times a week flights to Dubai and these are direct flights. Prior to this, the existing airlines like Ethiopia, KQ were not direct flights, that comes with a lot of inconvenience.
I also noticed that labour migration is on a new high in the region.
Personally, I am an ardent supporter of labor migration because of the related benefits of this sector to a country like Uganda with a huge jobless educated youth population.
As I have urged before, this sector requires alignment and being looked at as a strategic sector that can aid the country in reducing levels of unemployment and boost incomes especially through remittances.
UAE in particular, a number of jobs are available from casual, semi-professional to professional. According to Gulf Talent a recruitment agency, translators for example earn up to sh17 million.
For such jobs, they do not need any experience. Straight from Makerere School of education or institute of languages, get a visa off to Abu Dhabi and earn millions. Such jobs usually come with housing, food and transport benefits.
While the government of Uganda is engaging on how to streamline the movement of Ugandans abroad, Uganda Airlines is playing its part by providing easy transport. Pacts between UAE and Uganda will in future make this flights even cheaper.
While at Dubai airport, ground handling agents were quick to point out that Uganda airlines is known to them as one that brings a lot of food and vegetables. The presence of Uganda Airlines in UAE skies and ground is already being felt and this is a plus not to our politics but Uganda’s economy, image, and reputation.
UAE a strategic partner to Uganda and east Africa in general. A number of Ugandans and Kenyans have good jobs in UAE, a lot of food and fruits from east Africa find their way to UAE, there are no much labor or trade restrictions compared to Europe and USA. Uganda or East Afraica region can exploit these advantages to boost their economies and also deal with unemployment syndrome. If UAE is well engaged and used, the benefits are immense.
As I pen down this piece, I urge Ugandans to rally behind our national pride. This airline is there to spur economic growth, facilitate tourism, agro processing ,trade and provide employment. You and me can be part of this exciting journey by either buying a ticket, referring to other travelers, give it good reviews extra.
As a traveler, I enjoyed the luxury business class cabin, state of art seats with excellent meals and other services. As a patriot, I promise patronage because I want to be part of history. Ethiopians built Ethiopian airlines, Ugandans can build Uganda airlines.
George Patton said, “Better to fight for something than live for nothing.” You and I can fight so that Uganda Airlines continues to shine in the skies.
Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo