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Uganda Airlines reveals new tricks to beat rivals

Uganda Airlines planes

Uganda Airlines planes

On August 28, Uganda Airlines will launch its commercial flights with an inaugural flight to Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Nairobi.

It will, thereafter, fly twice every day to Nairobi and Juba (South Sudan) in addition to a single flight to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, plus four weekly flights to Mogadishu, Somalia.

Flying again after more than 17 years since it was grounded, Uganda Airlines comes with an ambitious plan that its directors hope will position the airline in a vantage point to capture a sizeable share of the nearly two million travelers that fly in and out of the country annually.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) records show that more than 1.8 million passengers were handled by Entebbe International Airport in 2018, up from 1.65 million the year before. There is also a recorded growth of 41.9 percent in the number of domestic passenger traffic between 2017 and 2018, which Uganda Airlines wants to leverage on to outpace the foreign players.

In 2017, the number of domestic passengers were 18,824, and moved up to 26,711 in 2018.

“The success of a national carrier comes from the support the home market gives it.  We want you [Ugandans] to own this airline, we want you to patronize it,” said Ephraim Bagyenda, the Uganda Airlines chief executive officer (CEO), during a media launch of the airline in Kampala recently.

Efforts to revive the airline gained momentum in April with the delivery of two CRJ900 aircraft from Bombardier but a lengthy certification and licensing process held back plans to have the commercial flights commence in July. This process was concluded on July 30, the day International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed the allocation of the UR code to the airline – allowing it to start ticketing for its flights.

“We want to disrupt the market, we are not coming as underdogs in the industry, we are coming to compete with the big names in the industry,” said Jennifer Bamuturaki, the airline’s commercial director.

The airline promises lower fares to its destinations. Its two-month promotional fares are slightly lower than the existing fares by other market players.

The promotional rates for return tickets are $278 (Nairobi), $225 (Juba), $590 (Mogadishu), $286 (Dar-es-Salaam), $292 (Bujumbura), $325 (Mombasa) and $311(Kilimanjaro). How they plan to compete with just two aircraft, Bamuturaki said, they will in the meantime rely on partnerships with other airlines.

“Until we take delivery of the remaining two CRJ900s, we shall be flying to those four destinations but that does not mean that we won’t be marketing the other routes in our plan. We are going to sign interline agreements with other players in the market,” Bamuturaki said.

Interline agreements enable airlines to handle passengers traveling on itineraries that require multiple flights on multiple airlines. Such an agreement allows passengers to change from one flight on one airline to another airline without having to check-in again.

Once the second pair of CRJ900 is delivered in September, the airline will expand its wings with additional flights to Bujumbura (Burundi), Mombasa (Kenya) and Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) as it awaits the delivery of the two A330-neo aircraft from Airbus for its long-haul routes.
The initial planned long-haul routes are to London and Guangzhou (China) with additional routes to Mumbai (India) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates) under consideration.


“Our mandate is to market Uganda as a tourism destination. In doing this, we have some areas to focus on: the people – Uganda as a country with different ethnicities, our different cultures and the places; our natural attractions that make travelers want to come to Uganda,” Bamuturaki said.

Bamuturaki said their marketing strategy has, however,  been received with negativity from Ugandans probably because of lack of information.

“If I am marketing destination Uganda, I don’t market it to Ugandans but to the outside world who don’t know about Uganda. And when in Uganda, I advertise everywhere I fly,” Bamuturaki said.

Meanwhile, Uganda Airlines has signed a one-year contract with National Aviation Services (NAS) to ground handle for the airline.

“As we build capacity so that we can ground handle ourselves, NAS (formerly Entebbe Handling Services [Enhas] will offer the service but our coming does not mean that we are going to force the others out,” Bagyenda said.

NAS, DAS Handling Limited and Fresh Handling Limited which specialises in handling exports of cut flowers, horticultural and agricultural products, are the three licensed ground handling companies at Entebbe.



-1 #1 Wainainchi 2019-08-09 13:24
Bravo Uganda!!!!!!Let's goooo!! Everybody fly by Uganda Airlines and support of beloved Uganda!!!!
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0 #2 MARY MUGISHA 2019-08-09 23:53

An opinion report from an insider whistle blower

Because your comment section is limited to only 1000 words and disables copy an paste i have included the facebook link for the original article


1 - Cronyism
2 - Mismanagement and incompetency of newly appointed executives
3 - Questionable ownership of Uganda Airlines
4 - Questionable Price amount that Uganda Paid for the CRJ900
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0 #3 naboma 2019-08-10 11:02
Let us wait and see. In the mean time I will still be traveling with other airlines not Uganda until such a time when it can be trusted, which may never happen under this government
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+1 #4 rubangakene 2019-08-10 16:47
You need to give us the concrete figures/reason why you are better than the other airlines.

One flight alone will not even be enough to pay for the fuel, leave alone the excessive pilots salaries.

You know in the whole world, only 3% of Africans really fly. How you will convince someone to leave his marua and pork to fly to Nairobi to eat "nyama choma" and Tusker Beer and other things needs a devil to work miracles!
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0 #5 kabayekka 2019-08-10 20:24
Mary Mugisha, are you trying to say that there are no modern national enterprise that seem to have succeeded in this country since some years back?

And therefore there are no new tricks that are expected from this once failed African enterprise!
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0 #6 MR 2019-08-11 06:53
They should make Uganda Airlines the mandatory airline for all Gov't departments to make sure it has business like UTL.

But with it's limited first class/Business class seats gov't officials would fight it.
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