A battle for the skies looms in the region after Uganda licensed a larger private airline that is slated to start operations in the Kenya Airways dominated market in November.
Vule Airways Limited, which will operate flights within the East African region and London, is set to run both passenger and cargo flights in what could spark a pricing war between major players in the region.
KQ is a dominant player in the region and neighbouring states have complained that the airline charges exorbitant fees on air tickets because of its monopoly.
“We are going to start flights in November this year beginning with direct flights from Uganda to East African countries, London as well as internal flights from Entebbe to Arua, Kisoro, Kasese, Kalangala, and Moroto,” the Airline said.
This comes at a time when the Ugandan government is keen on reviving its national airline as it seeks to offer affordable services to its citizens. RwandAir received a larger capacity A330-200 airbus last year while Tanzania bought two new Canadian-made Bombardier-Dash Q400 planes, after years of relying on private and other international airlines.
The move by the countries to revive their airlines brings competition right at the doorstep of KQ, which has been banking on regional flights to grow its dwindling revenue and reverse its loss making trend.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli last year commissioned Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) with plans afoot to expand the airline to other regional countries. KQ has been capitalising on the absence of national carriers in some of the Eastern and Southern African countries such as Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi to grow its revenue.