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Shipping & Logistics

Uganda Airlines low fares to step up competition

Uganda Airlines Bombardier
Uganda Airlines Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft stand on the runway at Entebbe Airport on the outskirts of Kampala on April 23, 2019. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Uganda Airlines, which is scheduled to start its maiden flight at the end of this month is set to crank up competition with local carriers as it plans to offer flyers lowest fares.

The airline is offering Sh27,800 for a return ticket from Entebbe to Nairobi, which will make it the cheapest carrier on the route given that Jambojet, a budget carrier, charges Sh28,190 on average for a round trip.

National carrier Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will be charging an average of Sh54,000 on August 28 on the same route, the very day when Uganda Airlines will be embarking on its first flight.

KQ announced last week plans for two daily flights to Nairobi and Juba, one daily flight to Dar es Salam and four weekly flights to Mogadishu.

The Uganda airline was to start its maiden journey last month but it delayed the move because it was yet to get its Air Operation Certificate, which it has now acquired. The airline bought four Bombardier CRJ 900s for regional flights, two of which arrived in the country on April 24. The other two are expected early September.

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Ugandan government is also in the process of acquiring higher capacity aircraft, Airbus A330-800neos, which will be used for long haul flights and are expected to be in the country between 2020 and 2021.

Mr Museveni is on record having complained about fares being charged by Kenya Airways on the Entebbe route. This signals that the Ugandan carrier will be keen to trigger a price war on the route.

The revival of the airline now means all the East African countries have their own national carriers, after Tanzania too revived its last year.

Air Tanzania has been eyeing Lusaka, Johannesburg, and Harare with its new acquired fleet as it seeks to expand its presence in the region.

The Southern African region is one of the key routes for KQ, especially Zambia and Zimbabwe which do not have national airlines.

KQ has at least four daily flights to Dar es Salaam, five to Entebbe, four to Lusaka and at least one daily flight to Livingstone (Zambia). The Kenya Airways also flies to two other cities in Zambia.

The Ethiopia Airlines, perhaps KQ’s fiercest rival, has been reviving some of the stalled national carriers, mainly in the Southern African region where it operates a substantial number of flights. The airlines acquired a 45 percent stake in Zambia Airways that is set to be re-launched after more than two decades. Under the pact, the Zambian government will be the majority shareholder with a 55 percent stake.

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