Shipping & Logistics

Uganda Airlines secures prime landing slot in Heathrow

UgandaAirlines

The Uganda Airlines A330-800 neo taking off from Tolouse, France. It arrived in Entebbe on December 22, 2020. PHOTO | POOL

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Summary

  • Uganda Airlines has secured a prime landing slot at the Heathrow Airport in London, nearly the same as the one that Kenya Airways sold to Oman Air in 2016.
  • Uganda Airlines’ acquisition of the slot sets the stage for competition with other regional carriers as it eyes a lucrative business travellers to Europe.

Uganda Airlines has secured a prime landing slot at the Heathrow Airport in London, nearly the same as the one that Kenya Airways sold to Oman Air in 2016.

Uganda Airlines’ acquisition of the slot sets the stage for competition with other regional carriers as it eyes a lucrative business travellers to Europe.

The carrier has announced it will be landing at Heathrow 6am and depart to Entebbe at 9am coming as a boost to the airline given that a lot of travellers to London, especially the business people who prefer the morning flight to London to enable them finish their business engagement and return by evening.

Kenya Airways sold off the morning landing slot at London’s Heathrow nearly five years ago for an estimated Sh7.5 billion in a move aviation experts argued significantly affected the airline’s attractiveness to passengers on the UK route. The carrier at the moment flies in the afternoon on this route.

Uganda Airlines, which has been in operation for hardly two years, has puzzled aviation pundits on how it was able to secure the most coveted landing slot in Heathrow, which is considered one of the most expensive airports in the world.

KQ’s sale of its coveted 5.30am arrival slot was the highest priced deal to have taken place at Heathrow as at 2016, beating the previous Sh6 billion ($60 million) record payment that American Airlines made to Scandinavian carrier SAS a year ago.

Slots at Heathrow lose value as the day progresses, with early morning arrivals fetching the highest value. The value of slots drops by 30 percent by midday and by 50 percent by evening, according to an earlier report by Heathrow Airport Holdings.

With fully operational flights both within and outside Africa, Uganda carrier has heightened competition in the region’s aviation industry with the announcement of flights to Dubai, Guangzhou and Mumbai, the routes that are currently serviced by Kenya Airways and RwandAir.

These are some of the popular routes by travellers from Africa and the move by the Uganda Airlines to start flying to these destinations means it will eat into KQ’s market share, considering that Kampala is one of the profitable routes for the carrier.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has been a major regional hub and passengers from Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have been connecting through KQ to countries such as Dubai, London and China. However, with this morning flight to Heathrow, KQ will lose some of its passengers who used to connect from JKIA

Last month, Uganda received its second Airbus A330neo aircraft, bringing the total fleet to six as the national carrier continues with revival efforts.