KAMPALA — Unease, shock and nerves describe the current mood at Uganda Airlines where a shake-up is currently underway.
According to sources, the top hierarchy including the CEO, Cornwell Muleya have been sent packing after a dramatic intervention by transport minister General Katumba Wamala, on orders from the State House.
State owned media has reported that up to 10 of Uganda Airlines top management including the CEO, financial director, head of safety and human resource director have gone on 3 months leave.
But the move, according to a source, is due to allegations of corruption, mismanagement and poor performance within the state-owned entity and will allow for a full investigation into the matter.
A new acting CEO, Captain Steven Wegoye has been appointed to oversee a transition
Both the transport minister and head of Uganda Airlines board have maintained in a response to state owned media that the entire management team has simply taken up their accumulated leave. This at a time when the airline is stepping up preparations for route expansion to Johannesburg and network expansion to long haul destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
Earlier this year, the Uganda auditor general presented a report to the country’s parliament which identified the Airline as the country’s worst performing state-owned entity. The carrier made a loss of UGX.102.4 Billion (US $27.9 Million) in the previous financial year
The Auditor General noted that 10 State enterprises had debt ratios of more than 50%, implying that their total assets were insufficient to cover their total debt. This list included the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) with a gearing ratio 51.17% in the 2018-19 financial year and a ratio of 48.88% in the 2019-20 financial year. Uganda National Airlines Company Limited had a gearing ratio of 2.37% in the 2018-19 financial year and a ratio of 0.48 in the 2019-20 financial year.
But in a media release, the airline denied the existence of any form of debt, saying: “Uganda Airlines is fully capitalised by the shareholders and has no debts on its balance sheet.
All the aircraft and other assets were paid for by cash from the shareholders. Uganda Airlines therefore does not have any loans or interest payments to any financier.”
Additional reporting by AirSpace Africa