Investigations

Inside The Uganda Airlines Saga: Why the national carrier could collapse again!

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Uganda Airlines took delivery of its second Airbus A330-800neo last year (PHOTO/Bamulanzeeki)

There is a growing fear that should Muleya leave, the airline will be torn apart by wolves
Since last year, Muleya tried to see the President but was blocked

Formerly sacked Commercial Director is back in office and bent on revenge

How someone who lost a legal suit against the airline is back in office is baffling

There is confidence that the wise Museveni will not be fooled for long

The management of Uganda Airlines recently came out to clear the air about alleged financial performance deficiency, maintaining that for the first two years of the national carrier’s operations it was still in systems preparation for ultimate operation.

It is interesting that all this is being alleged even when Uganda Airlines was recently named winner of the “ch-aviation World’s Youngest Aircraft Fleet Award 2021”. SKY Airline of South America, SalamAir of Asia, JetSMART of South America and Baltic Air of Europe came in at 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Ugandans took to social media to jubilate and congratulate their carrier, which has got millions of positive reviews worldwide from travellers since inception.

Those who know the airline CEO, Cornwell Muleya, have spoken highly of his aviation expertise and there is growing fear both at the airline and among a large section of Ugandans that should he leave, Uganda Airlines will be torn apart by all the wolves he has been shielding it from, the same wolves who are now vying for his exit and have tried so hard to turn the President against him. There is some hope however that the President, known for his fairness and excellent intelligence system, will not be fooled for long.

In a dramatic turn of events earlier this month, the Airline top management was forced to go on leave for 90 days. The Executive cited non performance, alleged massive corruption, governance problems and other issues seen to be a threat to the survival of the company.

Sources close to Uganda Airlines said that it was unfair to send the top management on forced leave after the audit report without hearing their side of the story and putting the “operating environment in context”.

It has since been established that such reports had earlier been highlighted by Muleya, in several letters sent to H.E President Museveni way back in late 2020 and early 2021, but the reports “got lost” somewhere in transit and never got to the President. Puzzling to note is, in one of the reports to the President, the Airline CEO blew a whistle on the same allegations for which he has been put on forced leave. He pointed out that the negative publicity the company has suffered for a sustained period was a machination by a syndicate internally and externally.

However, in a shocking turn of events, the formerly sacked Uganda Airlines Commercial Director, Jennifer Bamuturaki, is now back in employment at Uganda Airlines as second in command to the Ag. CEO, a former flight captain, Wegoye, who, apart from his flying expertise, has no history of airline management. Bamuturaki was fired at the end of her 6-month probation back in 2020 for, among many mismanagement issues, having hired Abbavator, the media and PR firm she had “very close relations” with. It was a big conflict of interest that cost the airline hundreds of thousands of dollars in backhanded fake deals and was the last straw for Muleya.

The PR firm Abbavater Ltd is accused of failure to eventually comply with contractual obligations by not paying several media houses and eventually engaging in negative publicity against Uganda Airlines, whose image they were meant to protect. And now, like most puzzling things in Uganda, the same person who was engaged in this is back at the same airline.

And, if that is not shocking enough, this publication has got information that Abbavator was in possession of Muleya’s confidential letters that never got to the President, and was among the whistleblowers that communicated to various government agencies including the Solicitor General, the State Minister Transport, Hon. Kabatsi, and finally the President, citing corruption and challenging the termination of their contract after media suppliers had dragged them to court.

During her former short tenure at Uganda Airlines, Bamuturaki committed the company to hefty charges with their handlers in Mogadishu for personal benefit and a company representative in Mogadishu was threatened with death for trying to correct the same until he had to exit Somalia. To-date, the company hardly makes any money off passengers travelling between Uganda and Somalia because of the mess she caused.

So while the airline top managers are on leave, the vengeful Bamuturaki is back at the Airline and working closely with the Presidentially-appointed lady that is leading investigations against the same CEO who sacked her for incompetence, causing her to sue the airline for 5bn UGX. She lost the industrial case and filed another for unlawful dismissal, which she interestingly withdrew days before she was reinstated at the airline recently.

Bamuturaki is rumoured to be warming up to bounce back as CEO at the end of the 90 days, having been one of those who wrote a dossier to the President (which we have) about alleged mismanagement of the airline. However, should her allegations be found untrue, which, according to information gathered they are, her mission might be impossible as the current CEO has a running contract for the next 18 months from February 2021 and aviation experts have praised him for steering Uganda Airlines to quick success.

It is now coming to three weeks since Muleya and some of his managers were sent on leave, but this publication has learnt that none of them have been spoken to by the investigator, who is said to have realised that all allegations are false and is perplexed.

Legal experts have warned that unless the matter is handled with fairness where all parties are heard fairly and facts presented, the Airline could be sued for billions in damages and tarnish its global image hardly two years after its revival. Efforts to reach Muleya for comment have remained futile.

 

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