After two decades, Uganda re-launched its national carrier, Uganda Airlines becoming the latest East African country seeking to revive their aviation industry. It was a historic moment as the airline took to the sky with a successful inaugural flight to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Launched into the increasingly crowded East African skies, the airline is all set to take on regional giants chiefly Ethiopian Airlines, which largely dominates the skies and Kenya Airways which continues to expand despite years of losses and management woes.
Uganda Airlines aims at East African travel market
On being relaunched, Uganda Airlines looks forward to take a slice of the East African travel market that is dominated by Ethiopian Airlines. Perhaps, the country is relying on its emerging oil industry and tourism to generate international traffic to sustain its national carrier. In the past recent years, Uganda has grown as a vacation destination with travelers drawn by beautiful national parks, beach resorts and wildlife such as rare mountain gorillas. With increased passenger traffic at the country’s Entebbe International Airport, the relaunch of Uganda Airlines is expected to contribute to the country’s national economy. Also, air traffic in Africa is expected to grow 6% each year. But at present, the Ugandan carrier will initially fly to seven regional destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan, and Burundi. In November, it would launch flights to destinations in south and central Africa.
Stiff competition from regional airlines
Uganda Airlines will face stiff competition not only from Ethiopian Airlines, but also from Rwanda and Tanzania which have revived their national airlines in a bid to capture a slice of the booming market. Another rival regional carrier Kenya Airways has also faced challenges in its efforts to expand. Since 2014, it incurred losses after buying a number of aircraft which coincided with a slump in tourist and business travel to Kenya owing to attacks by Somalia-based Islamist militants.
About Uganda Airlines
It was founded in 1976 by former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. It was liquidated in the 1990s by President Yoweri Museveni under a broader programme to privatize troubled state firms. But last year, the country started pursuing plans to relaunch its national carrier to share in East Africa’s growing aviation business. The comeback of the Ugandan airline on the new route network will offer competitive pricing for flyers who have previously been connecting to various capitals through Nairobi, Addis Ababa or Kigali on Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines or Rwandair respectively.