Plans to revamp the national carrier-Uganda Airlines is in high gear, with Government saying it has already procured four aircraft. According to Works and Transport minister Eng Monica Ntege Azuba, the four aircraft of Bombardier will have 80-100 passenger chauffeur capacity. The aircraft will arrive and start flying by December, she said.
“We’re starting with four aircrafts and these are Bombardier aircraft. The sitting capacity is 80 to 100 passengers. They are produced by Bombardier which is from Canada. We had a team and it has done studies and a business plan was made – it was found that it would be viable. ” said Azuba while addressing journalists on the NRM manifesto implementation at Uganda National Roads Authority offices in Kyambogo.
She added; government will later purchase two Airbus A330 series 800 wide – twin engine propeller aircraft. These will have a 300 sitting capacity each. She said government has already paid a commitment fee of $1.2 million to the Canada-based Bombardier manufacturer and France-based Airbus manufacturer.
Parallel negotiations, although of lesser urgency, are ongoing with a consortium of Germany, French and British banks to advance export credit for a pair of Airbus A330-800 series that will form the core of the long distance fleet. Ms Azuba said that the government was exploring a mix of finance options and could borrow from other sources in the interim to bridge any funding gaps.
Addressing journalists on the NRM manifesto implementation at Uganda National Roads Authority offices in Kyambogo – Kampala, Azuba said government has done a feasibility study and business plan indicating that revamping Uganda Airlines, which was grounded in 2002, will be a viable venture. Adding that according to the business plan, the airline will break even after 4 to 5 years.
Azuba rvealed that government is cognisant of the fact that they won’t make profits in the airline business from the first day. She said government will be innovative after venturing into the airline business by looking beyond passengers and cargo transport.
She hinted at a possible shakeup of several aspects of Entebbe International Airport saying the national carrier could earn ancillary revenue from ground handling, catering and inflight services. Those services, previously a monopoly of Uganda Airlines were spun-off and concession to private entities in 1995.
She said the airline will be fully owned by government but will later sell shares to release the pressure from the national coffers.
Revamping Uganda Airlines was atop of President Museveni’s must do list after 2016 presidential elections. ” Museveni argued that “a national airline would help us save $420 million per year that Ugandans spend on travel. The national airline will also create jobs and career opportunities for our children who train as pilots at Soroti Flying School.”
Uganda liquidated its former debt ridden national carrier in 2000 and the operator code QU was sold to a private carrier – East African Airlines- that folded in 2003