Cornwell Muleya, the Chief Executive Officer Uganda Airlines, says despite halting flights, the company isn’t redundant. He says they carrying out the other activities in the first phase of reviving the national carrier.
Uganda Airlines is busy with startup activities
amidst the nationwide lockdown and global travel restrictions, according to
management. President, Yoweri Museveni banned both incoming and outgoing passenger flights at Entebbe International Airport
on March 25th 2020 as part of the measures to curb the spread of the
As a result, Uganda Airlines
grounded its four CRJ900 Bombardier aircrafts. However, Cornwell Muleya, the
Chief Executive Officer Uganda Airlines, says despite halting flights, the
company isn’t redundant. He says they carrying out the other activities in
the first phase of reviving the national carrier.
This phase involves among others, assessing the
need to revive the airline, establishing and reviewing route performance, staff
recruitment, procurement of fleet and launching of flights. Muleya says they
are currently busy with among others, staff recruitment, system installations
and preparations to expand destination routes both short and long haul. Since
August 2019, the airline was making about 50 flights a week, with a daily
average of five flights per plane.
The airline was flying to 8 destinations
including Kigali, Mombasa, Nairobi, Mogadishu, Juba and Bujumbura. The
airline was also expected to fly to five other regional destinations including Lusaka,
Johannesburg, Khartoum, Cairo and Harare by June this year.
However, this has been put on halt. It also
expects to add international connection routes such as London, Dubai and the
Chinese market in Guangzhou after receiving two A330-800 Neo Aircrafts from
Airbus this December. As a result, the company wants to recruit additional
100 staff including pilots, flight engineers and other support staff to
meet demand for future expansion. There are currently a total of 150 staff
including the 24 pilots for the four aircrafts.
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Muleya also says they are negotiating with
service providers for ground handling and catering among others in the proposed
destination routes. Though the aircrafts are grounded, the company
is carrying out routine maintenance.
The company released a promotional video on
Friday, where Eng. Ephraim Bagenda, the Director Maintenance and Engineering,
said during maintenance they open up the aircrafts, run the engines and do
system checks, correct any detected defects so that the aircrafts are ready for
service when the shutdown is lifted.
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Muleya says the company is not worried about
financial losses incurred during the lockdown because it is saving on flight
related costs such as fuel and ground handling. It has also received funding
from government to run its other activities this financial year.
Parliament allocated Shillings 258.5 billion for
the airlines to kick-start its operations in the financial year
2019-2020. The airline expects to spend at least Shillings 59.2
billion on fuel, Shillings 32 billion on ground handling fees and Shillings 14.6
million for passenger handling among others.
Government is expected to capitalize the airline
for its first seven years. The airline has running contracts for fuel and
servicing running for between 5 to 7 years, which management has to renegotiate
since the aircrafts are grounded.