Fly the Crane to the Pearl of Africa
Fly the Crane to the Pearl of Africa : Uganda Airlines is Uganda’s flagship national passenger and cargo carrier, established in May 1976 and started operating in 1977. The company headquarters are nestled within Entebbe International Airport in Wakiso District, approximately 34 kilometers by road, south of the central business district of Kampala the Capital, largest and busiest city in Uganda. The company provides scheduled air transport services in East Africa and near – international markets. The Government of Uganda’s attempt to privatize the company resulted to the drop out of all potential bidders later on leading to the liquidation of the Uganda Airlines Corporation in May 2001. However the airline was eventually revived and commenced flying again in 2019 though under the same name Uganda Airlines.
Uganda Airlines was launched or founded as a subsidiary of the government-owned Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) in May 1976 as a replacement of the services previously operated by the East African Airways. The company began operating in 1977, when Uganda Aviation Services (UAS) set up by the British United Airways in 1965 but then a UDC subsidiary, was absorbed by Uganda Airlines taking over the UAS route network. With subsequent following, delivery of the first Boeing 707-320C in the late 1970s, new routes to Brussels, London and Rome were commenced. A second Boeing 707-320C entered the fleet in 1981. In that very year new routes to Cairo, Cologne and Dubai were launched followed by Kilimanjaro, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in the subsequent years. By March 1990, the fleet contained one Boeing 707-320C, two Fokker F27-600S, one Lockheed L-100-30, one Twin Otter and one B-N Trislander. A Boeing 737 was leased from Air Zimbabwe in 1994 to serve Bujumbura and Kigali, as well as destinations in South Africa. Tel Aviv was included to the route network in 1995, and by 1998 all European routes were ceased. The creating of the Alliance Air in late 1994 that was later known as SA Alliance, an entity jointly owned by the Tanzanian and Ugandan governments, Air Tanzania and Uganda Airlines, as well as by south African Airways (SAA), Tanzania and Uganda granted the rights of long-haul operations to the new airline. The agreement intended to feed Alliance Air’s operations with both Air Tanzania and Uganda Airlines domestic and regional services. Though, both regional carriers grew less than expected, and the debt on the Uganda Airlines side increased thus leading to the Ugandan Government’s decision on whether to liquidate the company or to privatize it.
In the late 1990s, the Government of Uganda planned to privatize the debt- ridden Airlines in order to search for an investor to keep the company at balance since it was in a decline cash position. At the beginning, numerous firms held an interest in taking over the Uganda Airlines. SA Alliance/SAA, Air Mauritius, British Airways, Johannesburg-based inter Air, Kenya Airways and Sabena, all appeared to be interested bidders at the start, however eventually declined to submit bids, apart from SAA the only bidder who remained by early 1999. SAA would have had a 49% participation in the company, nonetheless, it thereafter dropped its bid after encountering strong legislature opposition. Upon having no offers, the Ugandan Government liquidated the airline in May 2001. Following studies along with wide consultations, the Cabinet of Uganda choose to re-launch the Uganda Airlines, with six new jets, two of which will be the wide-body, long range A330-800 and the other four being CRJ900 aircraft. Further studies recommended an equity investment by the government of nearly US$70million and loans totaling US$330 million, to complete the purchase they borrowed from regional lenders like the Trade and Development Bank. The East African reported that the Ugandan government had made a small monetary deposit on each of the six aircraft in the month of May 2018, whilst it concludes final financing arrangements. The first batch of CRJ900 aircraft was expected in November 2018 but the delivery of the A330-800 planes was expected in December 2020.
On 19th March 2019, according to the company’s chief executive at the time Ephraim Bagenda, 12 pilots and 12 co-pilots (total of 24 cockpit crew), all were Ugandans who had completed their training and certification on the CRJ900-ER aircraft. In April 2019, the first two regional jets were expected in Uganda, the third jet was scheduled for delivery in July 2019 and the fourth CRJ900 was expected in September 2019. In the midst of April and June 2019, the Airline arranged to archive an Air operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and start operations by 30th June 2019. On 8th April 2019, the scheduled delivery date for the first two jets (5X-EQU and 5X-KOB) was reported as Tuesday 23rd April 2019. In April 2019, the delivery of the Bombardier CRJ900 was confirmed as 23rd April 2019 and that of the Airbus A330-800 as the first half of 2021. On 27th July 2019, the Uganda Civil Aviation granted the Uganda National Airlines company with an Air Operator Certificate, finalizing a five-step, three month certificate process that released the airline to begin commercial operations. On 2nd August 2019, the airline declared the launch date as 28th August of the same year, with flights to Dar es Salaam, Juba, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Mombasa and Bujumbura. On the day of 28th August 2019, the Uganda Airlines had its first commercial flight from Entebbe to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) with eight passengers on board.
On 13th November 2019, the Uganda Airlines launched the first flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport, thus accomplishing the first phase of operations to seven routes which were started with flights to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport approximately three months earlier on. On 16th December 2019, Uganda Airlines started regular commercial Passenger services to Zanzibar in Tanzania. The three-times-weekly service ushered the Airline’s destinations to eight in the second phase of route extension. On 1st October 2020, later than a six-month pause in the schemed passenger service, due to travel restrictions pressed as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Uganda Airlines resumed schemed passenger services in a gradual phased manner. On that very day, Entebbe International Airport, the airline’s hub that had been closed to passenger traffic since March 2020, was opened for resumed passenger service. On 18th December 2020, the Uganda Airlines launched commercial flights to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The three times weekly operations shoot up the Airline’s expanding network to ten destinations. On 30th April 2021, the minister of Transport and Works, Gen. Katumba Wamala, banished CEO Cornwell Muleya and paused the entire management team and board of directors due to claims of corruption, poor performance and mismanagement.
It is expected that when kabaale International Airport is completed in 2021, a meshwork of flights to local, regional and international destinations will be developed around the new airport. On 2nd March 2021, it was reported that the Airline would start five-times-weekly scheduled services between Entebbe and London Heathrow on 28th March 2021, using the A330-800 equipment. Nevertheless, the service did not commence as originally planned due to failure of the Airline to get the aircrafts suitably certified by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority. However, the appropriate certification of the A330-800s was obtained on 20th August 2021. From its hub in Entebbe International Airport, in its peak, the company used to operate schemed or scheduled services to various destinations within Europe, Middle East and Africa. The list of destinations the Uganda Airlines serviced all through its history is as follows.
|Burundi||Bujumbura||Bujumbura International Airport||_||(22)|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||Goma||Goma International Airport||_||(23)|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||Kinshasa||N’djili Airport||_||(23)|
|Germany||Cologne||Cologne Bonn Airport||_||(24)|
|Israel||Tel Aviv||Ben Gurion Airport||_||(7)|
|Italy||Rome||Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport||_||(24)|
|Kenya||Mombasa||Moi International Airport||_||(25)|
|Kenya||Nairobi||Jomo Kenyatta International Airport||_||(24)|
|Rwanda||Kigali||Kigali International Airport||_||(26)|
|South Africa||Johannesburg||OR Tambo International Airport||_||(26)|
|Tanzania||Dar-es-Salaam||Julius Nyerere International Airport||_||(24)|
|Tanzania||Kilimanjaro||Kilimanjaro International Airport||_||(24)|
|Uganda||Entebbe / Kampala||Entebbe International Airport||Hub||(24)|
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai||Dubai International Airport||_||(24)|
|United Kingdom||London||Gatwick Airport||_||(24)|
|United Kingdom||London||Stansted Airport||_||(29)|
|Zambia||Lusaka||Lusaka International Airport||_||(26)|
|Zimbabwe||Harare||Harare international Airport||_||(26)|
The list of companies Uganda Airlines had code share agreements with at the time of closure; routes were actually operated by Ugandan Airlines is as follows.
- Kenya Airways, Nairobi to/from Entebbe
- Emirates, Dubai to/from Entebbe
- Air Tanzania, Dar-es-Salaam and Johannesburg to/from Entebbe
in the month of February 2019, the first out of the four CRJ900 aircrafts that the Uganda Airlines had ordered, took the first test flight with the livery of the new Airline and on 29th march 2019, the Ugandan Parliament approved an appeal by the Ugandan government for UGX280 billion (approximately US$76 million), to pay for the first two CRJ900s, scheduled to appear in Uganda in April 2019. The third and fourth CRJ900 aircrafts were brought during the middle of October 2019, as claimed by the Uganda Ministry of works and Transport and on 5 October 2019, the third and fourth CRJ900s, 5X-KDP and 5X-KNP left Montreal then to Canada while on their delivery journey to Entebbe, Uganda and landed in Uganda on 7 October 2019. 8th April 2019, the airline confirmed up its order for two A330-841s and on 16th October 2020, the first of the two A330-841s the airline purchased, with registration number 5X-NIL, departed the paint shop at Toulouse, France, with the livery of the Airline. Transportation of the first aircraft took place on 21st December 2020. On the same date, Airbus handed over the first of two A330-841s that the airline purchased in 2018, to a commission of Ugandan government officials, led by General Katumba Wamala, the Ugandan minister of works and transport. A team of Ugandan pilots flew the aircraft, with a registration number 5X-NIL from Toulouse to France and finally to Entebbe, Uganda on the date 22 December 2020 bearing a flight number UR404. In the beginning of February 2021, the airline operates the following aircrafts; the aircrafts were acquired from Airbus in Europe and Bombardier Aerospace in Canada.
Uganda Airlines fleet
|Airbus A330-800||2||_||20||28||210||258||(7) (46)|
|Bombardier CRJ900ER||4||_||12||_||64||76||(6) (47)|
Historically, the company operated the following aircraft;
- Britten-Norman Trislander
- Twin Otter
- Boeing 707-320C
- Boeing 727
- Boeing 737-500
- Cessna 402B
- Cessna U206
- Cherokee 235
- Cherokee six
- Fokker F-27-600
- King Air 100
- Lockheed L-100-30