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Shipping & Logistics

Uganda national carrier inches closer to takeoff

Passengers board an Air Uganda Airline
Passengers board an Air Uganda Airline at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

All East African countries are poised to have national carriers by the end of this month as Uganda prepares to receive its first fleet this month.

According to the Daily Monitor, the first aircraft purchased by Uganda Airlines will arrive in Entebbe on April 23 in what will mark the revival of the country’s national carrier.

The move is expected to heighten competition in the region’s aviation industry as airlines jostle for customers.

“The first of Uganda Airlines' Bombardier CRJ900 will touch down at Entebbe International Airport at 3pm. It will mark the official revival of the national flag carrier,” reports the Daily Monitor.

The move, which comes as a relief to travellers who are poised to enjoy reduced fares resulting from the rivalry, will cut the dominance of Kenya Airways which has had near monopoly of these routes amid complaints over exorbitant charges.

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In January this year, Tanzania received Airbus 220-300, in addition to the previous fleet, in readiness for international flights both within and outside the continent.

The plane was the second Airbus for the neighbouring country in less than a month after it acquired another one last December, bringing to six the number of aircraft that Air Tanzania Company Ltd has received in the past months.

The revival of the Ugandan Airlines had so many false starts, however, with President Yoweri Museveni being compelled to intervene on its revival. The airline is now slated to be operational by June this year, after a decade-long hiatus.

Uganda is one of the profitable routes for KQ and the revival of Uganda Airlines will directly eat into the Kenya carrier’s earnings.

President Museveni is on record lamenting about high fares that KQ charges passengers travelling to or from Uganda.

Air Tanzania is also eyeing Lusaka, Johannesburg, and Harare with flights likely to begin in February.

This is also one of the key routes for KQ, especially Zambia and Zimbabwe which do not have national airlines.

The airline acquired a 45 percent stake in Zambia Airways, which 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.

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). KQ also flies to two other cities in Zambia.

Ethiopian Airlines is also seeking to set up hubs in southern, central and the Horn of Africa.

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