The first two air crafts for the revived Uganda National Airlines arrived in the country on April 23 at exactly 3pm. The two Bombardier CRJ900 jets touched down at Entebbe International Airport at grand ceremony officiated by President Museveni at around 10am on Tuesday. The arrival of the two planes signaled the official revival of Uganda’s national carrier, which was grounded in 2001.
The air crafts first circled around the airport before landing. President, Yoweri Museveni officially received the planes after being water cannoned, a common tradition of receiving new planes. The word Uganda Airlines spotted the sides of the two aircrafts, which have registration number 5x-KOB and 5x-EQU.
It has been established that the Ugandan government paid Shillings 280 billion for the first two planes through a supplementary budget that was approved by the Parliament. The Uganda National Airlines Company will operate the CRJ900 in dual-class configuration with 76 economy seats and 12 first class seats.
The Bombardier CRJ900 hit the skies for the first test flight at Montreal Mirabel International Airport, Canada on February 17, 2019. With its pilots further trained in Canada by the manufacturers, the pair flew out of Montreal and passed through northern Canada. They then headed to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, before making their way to Maastricht in the Southeastern Netherlands. They would then connected to Cairo, Egypt from where they headed straight to Entebbe.
The acting Uganda Airlines CEO said that upon arrival, Uganda Airlines will start the certification process which will take about two months. Uganda Airlines will start with 12 regional destinations. They include; Nairobi, Mombasa, Goma, Zanzibar, Dar es Salam, Harare, Mogadishu, Kigali, Kilimanjaro and Addis Ababa.
The Uganda Airlines plans to use the A330-800 to build its medium and long-haul network with the aircraft offering cutting-edge technology along with more efficient operations.
The revival of the national carrier has divided opinions among the people of Uganda. The airline is expected to restore the glory of the country, carrying its flag across the world. It is also expected to promote tourism, the largest foreign exchange earner of the country.
Several tour operators have established that if the national carrier is well managed, it will ease travels across the region. According to Ssali Billy of Active African, the revival of the airline is expected to make travel cheaper in the region. It is also important for the airline to acquire smaller aircraft that can be used to ease travels across national parks where tourists conducted Uganda safaris. Ramathan Ggoobi, a university lecturer of economics added on that the revival of the airline will boost competition and thus lower the costs for travels to the country.
The Government of Uganda has maintained that it needed a carrier to promote tourism and ensure national pride among Ugandans. It should be noted that the Uganda Airlines was established by President Idi Amin Dada in 1976. Later the Uganda Airlines was liquidated in the 1990s by President Museveni’s government under a broader program to privatize troubled state firms and open up the economy to private enterprise.