Tours & Travel

Uganda Airlines CEO Bamuturaki, Tourism Minister meet Dubai Airport boss as national carrier joins big league

DUBAI —Uganda Airlines on Monday made its intercontinental maiden flight with a trip to Dubai International Airport, the primary international airport serving Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Dubai International Airport is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic which is also popular destination with Ugandan travellers who go there for both business and leisure.

We are delighted to welcome Uganda Airlines as a new career at DXB, with three flights or week between Entebbe and Dubai onboard an A330-800,” a statement from Dubai Airport authorities said on Tuesday.

To mark the launch, Dubai Airports’ Deputy CEO Jamal Al Hai, met with Uganda Airlines’ acting CEO, Jennifer Bamuturaki, as well as H. E. Abdalla Hassan Al Shamsi, Ambassador of the UAE in Uganda, Zaake Wanume Kibedi, Ambassador to Uganda in the UAE ans Tom Butime, Minister for Tourism in Uganda in Dubai.

Uganda Airlines hopes to tap into the connectivity that the destination offers into Europe, the far West and Far East through signing interline agreements with bigger players operating in Dubai.

The flight was initially due to launch in July, but a lack of demand and ongoing international travel restrictions twice forced the airline to postpone.

Another reason for the delay was a certification issue with the two A330neos: registrations 5X-CRN and 5X-NIL.

Uganda Airlines is young, just four years old, and it only started operations in 2019. But it has big plans for growth. The flight to Dubai will be the first intercontinental flight outside of Africa. Its current routes include Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and Johannesburg. It also operates other routes to Somalia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But with the two A330s officially a part of the fleet, the airline is eyeing up other international destinations. Acting chief executive Jennifer Bamuturaki has said the airline is ready to launch a route to London Heathrow and would like to launch in November if the UK red list restrictions allow.

Also in the airline’s sights are Mumbai and Guangzhou.

Although the airline’s aspirations appear lofty, the practicalities are certainly down to earth.

The airline struggled earlier this year when its CEO and several board members were removed due to allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

Since its inception, the airline’s finances have been going downhill.

Among the allegations was a rumor that pilots trained to fly the airline four Bombardier CRF-900s were flying the new A330neos. All with less than 500 hours of total flying time. Some reports suggested that pilots who had failed the simulator training were also allowed to fly the plane.

However, the airline is keen to clear its name and begin its international routes. With the two widebodies now approved for operations, the airline needs to look at its next destinations.

It will have little or no competition on its planned routes, but its current major issue is that it just doesn’t have the aircraft and hasn’t placed an order. Perhaps we will see it lease some more widebodies to cover new routes.

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