Uganda Airlines is preparing to launch its first intercontinental flight. Previously the airline has only operated within Africa, but from October 1st, the airline will connect Entebbe International Airport in Uganda with Dubai.
The flights are currently to launch on October 1st, 2021, in time for the World Expo, which will be held in Dubai. According to ch-aiation.com, the airline will use a pair of Airbus A330-800s to operate flight UR444 three times per week on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The two aircraft were only added to the airline Air Operators Certificate (AOC) in August.
Third time lucky
If all goes to plan and the airline does manage to launch the flights, it will prove that the third time is the charm. The airline has already delayed the launch twice. The flight was initially due to launch in July, but a lack of demand and ongoing international travel restrictions forced the airline to postpone. Another reason for the delay was a certification issue with the two A330neos: registrations 5X-CRN and 5X-NIL.
The airline rescheduled and finally managed to get the appropriate certification for the A330s in August. With the two aircraft allowed to operate commercial flights, the newest date for the launch in October.
Other international plans
Uganda Airlines is young, just four years old, and it only started operations in 2019. But it has big plans for growth. The flight to Dubai will be the first intercontinental flight outside of Africa. Its current routes include Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and Johannesburg. It also operates other routes to Somalia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But with the two A330s officially a part of the fleet, the airline is eyeing up other international destinations. Acting chief executive Jennifer Bamuturaki has said the airline is ready to launch a route to London Heathrow and would like to launch in November if the UK red list restrictions allow. Also in the airline’s sights are Mumbai and Guangzhou.
Still some issues to iron out
Although the airline’s aspirations appear lofty, the practicalities are certainly down to earth. The airline struggled earlier this year when its CEO and several board members were removed due to allegations of mismanagement and corruption. Since its inception, the airline’s finances have been going downhill.
Among the allegations was a rumor that pilots trained to fly the airline four Bombardier CRF-900s were flying the new A330neos. All with less than 500 hours of total flying time. Some reports suggested that pilots who had failed the simulator training were also allowed to fly the plane.
However, the airline is keen to clear its name and begin its international routes. With the two widebodies now approved for operations, the airline needs to look at its next destinations. It will have little or no competition on its planned routes, but its current major issue is that it just doesn’t have the aircraft and hasn’t placed an order. Perhaps we will see it lease some more widebodies to cover new routes.
What do you think of Uganda Airlines plans? Do you think they will succeed in launching more international routes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.