Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said acquisition of Uganda’s second Airbus, A330-800neo, will promote the country’s international trade and tourism sectors.
“The establishment of the national airlines is aimed at improving air transport connectivity to and from Uganda in order to enhance the country’s competitiveness and foster economic transformation through promotion of international trade and stimulating our national economic growth,” he said.
Dr Ruhakana made the remarks as Uganda Airlines received, from France, Airbus A330 neo at Entebbe International Airport on Tuesday, bringing the total national carrier fleet to six air crafts.
“This will contribute significantly to transforming Uganda from predominantly peasant to a modern and prosperous country as per aspirations of Uganda-vision 2040” he said.
Dr Rugunda said the absence of direct flights has been a big hindrance to international tourists and the business community who have had to bare the inconvenience of multiple stopovers.
“The introduction of direct flights by Uganda airlines will guarantee reduced journey time and better tourism experience for international tourists. The hospitality industry has been knocking on the doors of political leaders to make sure the national airline is revived. They are now going to take maximum advantage of the airlines revival,” he said.
Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer Mr Cornwell Muleya said the airline will expand its network to the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
“Uganda airlines is one of the first airlines to operate this technology in Africa as well as standards in the air which will attract market worldwide. We are working steadily to expand our network from the six countries that we are flying to now and the nine destinations we have opened. We are looking forward to expanding our networks to places like Johannesburg, Harare, Khartoum, Addis-Ababa among others,” he said.
Mr Muleya said the airline has signed bilateral air service agreements with 47 countries to create more routes for the airline.
The Vice president Airbus, Mr Hadi Akoum said the company will continue to support Uganda airlines to ensure it remains operating with a business plan and generate benefits for the country.
The minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development Mr Matia kasaija urged the business sector to export cargo using the airlines in order for the country to earn foreign exchange.
“I know it’s very difficult to make money at the beginning in the aviation industry but we must have a strategic plan on how to turn this business into a profitable one,” he noted.
The acting director general Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) Mr Fred Bamwesigye said the coming on board of the Airbus A330 neo is timely and much needed for development considering the need for faster connections between Uganda and the rest of the world.
“Uganda airlines is one of the 16 international air operators at Entebbe International Airport. There are also 20 non-scheduled air operators and we are optimistic that with addition of the two Airbus A33o neos- which will operate international flights to destinations beyond Africa, passenger traffic is going to steadily increase.” he remarked.