By Zulfa Namatovu

in Entebbe

At least 200jobs have been created in less than three months after the Uganda Airlines launched its self-handling ground operations project on November 1 2022..

So far Uganda Airlines has spent 3M USDs about Ug.Shs.11bn to handle its ground operations at Entebbe International Airport. The services were previously offered by DAS since 2019.

“This means that we are able to handle our passengers through check-in, their security , check their luggage , groom our aircraft (cleaning of the aircraft ) , carry ramp services among others ,” Ms. Shakira Rahim Lamar-the Head Corporate Affairs and PR at Uganda Airlines ,explained . “

 Ms. Shakira Lamar noted that with the self-handling project , Uganda Airlines will reduce the operation cost by 60%.

While she didn’t divulge the specific daily operation costs , sources within the aviation industry intimated that to self-handle one aircraft , an airlines needs about USD 2,000 per hour to see it take-off. This means that Uganda Airlines would ordinarily be paying USD 2,000 to the ground handler per hour each time there is a flight .

Lamar was confident that in the next two to three years -the airline will be in position to extend its ground handling services to other airlines flying into Entebbe airport .

Some of the ground handling equipment

” We will be able to do some of these things that we were not able to do. We will be able to save some money and invest in other services. In two to three years we shall have the capacity to offer ground handling services to other airlines. With self-handling services-we save money since all the flights start from Entebbe which is our hub,” she stated.

Shakira Lamar added , ” We are able to handle all the flights going to the 11 destinations. This includes grooming of the aircrafts and security of the passengers and their luggage. Handling of the aircraft all start at Entebbe Airport and caters for transiting passengers (from Juba, Bujumbura, Kinshasha -going to Dubai) returning to their countries of origin .

” She emphasized that self-handling is in the right direction for the Uganda Airline’s operations.

Lamar further revealed that Uganda Airline was also looking into developing its own cargo operations. ” That’s why e are ordering two freighters- long and short haul to carry cargo regionally and globally . Because we now think that the next ‘gold’ is in cargo.

During Covid-19 lockdowns- so many airlines had their aircraft carrying cargo. That is where we want to go as an airlines,” she stressed.

The Director of Engineering and Maintenance at Uganda Airlines , Mr. Ephraim Bagenda while talking to the media said the national carrier was spending USD 250,000 per month ( about Shs. 953.7m 0 going by the current exchange rate ) on contracted maintenance and ground-handling operations.

This means that the national carrier was roughly spending about USD 3m (Shs. 11.4bn) annually on contracted-self-handling services. But with the airline’s self-handling project on course , the national carrier is expected to save 60% of its operation costs..

The journey since Uganda Airlines started self- handling services on November 1,2022

Looking back at the journey so far, Mr. Derrick Ouma, the Team Leader and Duty Manager of the project assured travelers that the uganda Airlines team deployed-is up the task.

” We just need a little more equipment to push what we already have. The processes have already begun. So, where there are gaps, those can be addressed , especially manpower gaps but in terms so training , we are already there -training and skilling our staff to be more efficient . We are already working on an approved training organization . A lot of the staff are actually trainers. So, all we need is a few approvals with CAA (Uganda Aviation Authority ) and we can start conducting our own in- house training , ” Ouma said.

Editor: msserwanga@gmail.com

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