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Uganda Airlines starts Dubai flights in Sept

The flights were also delayed because Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) is yet to approve the two A330-800Neo Airbuses and included on the Air Operators Certificate- AOC (PHOTO /Courtesy)

Uganda Airlines will commence international flights to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in September; the Acting Chief Executive Officer Jenifer Bamuturaki has revealed.

She was speaking at an event organized by the Rotary E-club of Uganda Global on Sunday that attracted over 200 participants.

She revealed that the national carrier had initially planned to start flying to Dubai on July 16, 2021, but postponed the launch because of the suspension of flights by UAE to Uganda to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Some media reports show that Uganda is among the countries suspended by the gulf state after over 200 Ugandans who presented negative COVID-19 test results in June upon arrival tested positive.

The flights were also delayed because Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) is yet to approve the two A330-800Neo Airbuses and included on the Air Operators Certificate- AOC. The approval process takes five phases including pre-application, application, and document evaluation, demonstration of the approved documents and inclusion of the aircraft on the existing Air operator’s Certificate-AOC.

Bamuturaki says that they are currently on the third phase.

Bamuturaki also said that the London flights would start in November this year. The UK also red-listed Uganda last month over surging COVID-19 cases.

The airline had expected to operate its first London flight in September.

She says the airline is targeting migrant workers who travel to the Middle East and businesspeople among others on the Dubai route. Between 200 and 300 migrant workers, leave the country daily for work in Saudi Arabia, Oman and other gulf countries.

Ronnie Mukundane, the Spokesperson of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies-UERA, says the airline has not reached out to the labour companies.

“How do they plan a route targeting us without involving us in the planning? Why haven’t they consulted us? This has been our outcry to them; they need to learn to involve stakeholders,” he said.

He added, “Imagine these days we are chartering foreign airlines such as SaudiAir and others, yet our country’s aircraft are just parked on the tarmac.” Bamuturaki says the airline is also planning to launch other regional and international routes such as Mumbai, Guangzhou, Lagos and Kisangani by 2023.

However, ahead of the launch, she says the airline is engaging airlines such as Emirates, Qatar and KLM to sign interline traffic agreements.

Some of the participants asked how the airline is operating amidst claims of corruption and mismanagement. They also asked how the recent negative publicity has affected the airline. The same concerns came up when members of Rotary Club of Kampala South met Bamuturaki last week.

She, however, downplayed the impact of the negative publicity, saying most passengers believe in the airline and they are not moved by what is said in the media. “Most people do not understand the aviation industry but they keep talking about how the airline is collapsing,” she said.

Adding that, “the media has also fallen prey. How can you say the aircraft run out of fuel?” She was referring to the July incident at Dar as Salaam airport when the airline delayed its flight to Entebbe because the supplier had not delivered fuel in time.

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