By Our Special Writer
President Yoweri Museveni while commissioning the state -of-the-art Uganda Airlines additional jet -the Airbus A330-800neo, said the revived national airliner will boost trade and tourism .
Museveni says reviving the national carrier is one way the government will create jobs and also generate income so that Uganda becomes self-sufficient in various sectors including air travel.
The President who is pushing for the East African economic and political integration however regrated to note that the East African countries had not pooled resources for a jointly owned airline to operate regionally and internationally for the benefit of all East Africans.
Museveni has called upon all Ugandans to fly the Uganda Airlines for both travel and cargo.
“The revived Uganda Airlines will support our economic growth by facilitating transport and tourism. It will be a major boost if the $400m Ugandans spend annually on air travel comes to our own airline.”
Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport says the arrival of the aircraft is a befitting “Christmas gift from Museveni to Ugandans.”
He also lauded his predecessor, Eng. Monica Azuba who attended the ceremony and other technocrats for their contribution towards the revival of the national carrier.
Cornwell Muleya, the Chief Executive Officer Uganda Airlines says the arrival of the new aircraft is historical because Uganda is the first to receive the A330-800neo, a new version of the A330 series in Africa.
He says the new aircraft and the second one expected next month will allow the airline to operate long haul flights to Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Uganda Airlines had carried over 78,000 passengers between August 2019 to March 2020 from 9 destinations. Since October when commercial flights resumed at Entebbe International Airport, the airline has reopened all the 9 routes due a steady increase in the number of passengers.
Muleya adds that in the last one year, the airline has carried out recruitment and training for its staff to ensure smooth operations.
The airline currently employs 273 staff of whom 227 are Ugandans.
About A330-800neo aircraft
According to a representative from Airbus who attended the ceremony, the A330-800neo aircraft can fly for 14 hours non-stop and has all the latest technology to ensure safe and smooth air travel.
It belongs to the A330 new generation family. The family has two versions-A330-800 and A330-900.
A330-800 aircraft reduces fuel consumption by about 25 percent per seat compared to the A330 airliners in operation. It is also powered by Rolls-Royce’s latest generation Trent 7,000 engines and features a new wing with increased span, a new A330 XWB- inspired sharklets and airspace cabin amenities include passenger inflight entertainment and wifi connectivity systems.
The new aircraft has a total seat capacity of 258 seats configured in three-class layout. Of these, business class with a 1-2-1 layout, has 20 reclinable seats, premium economy has 28 seats with a 2-3-2 layout while economy class has 210 seats in a 2-4-2 layout.
Roger Wamara, the Uganda Airlines Commercial Director said the airline will start flights at the end of January 2021. Its first flight will be to Dubai-United Arab Emirates. The flight from France to Uganda was piloted by Capt Michael Etiang who is the chief Pilot for Uganda Airlines. Wamala said the new plane was fully paid for.
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