By Moses Sserwanga
The management at the national carrier – Uganda Airlines have been patient but steadfast working out the numbers on their new dynamic routes which are setting the pace to resolve a chronic challenge of intra-air connectivity on the African continent .
This strategic thinking and interventions being implemented by the new management team at Uganda Airlines led by CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki has attracted the sponsorship of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who are among several international development partners interested in seeing the Africa air space opened up for trade and development. The vast minerals rich continent has an estimated population of 1.3 billion people.
Lady CEO Jenifer Bamuturaki at the helm of revamped Uganda Airlines flying Africa
Uganda Airlines inaugural service to Lagos Nigeria which was launched on Thursday October 19th,2023 late afternoon is testament to the notion that direct air transport connectivity is possible in Africa.
Flight UR 900 left Entebbe International Airport for Lagos Murtala Muhammad International airport with 3 tons of cargo joining another Uganda Airlines flight from UR 430, which arrived earlier in the day from Mumbai.
This meant that connecting passengers and cargo had a direct flight from Entebbe to their final destination in Lagos . The connecting passengers were joined by businesswomen in the trade and tourism sectors who were sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to facilitate business-to-business linkages for export-ready companies targeting opportunities in Lagos and the wider west African market.
Nigerian delegation before inaugural flight take off
As a strategic partner, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is collaborating with Uganda Airlines to unpack opportunities that the new route brings in the context of trade and tourism for inclusive and sustainable development.
Uganda Airlines will operate the direct Lagos route three times a week with flights lined up for Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays.
This inauguaral service is strategic in nature and makes business sense because of the cargo volumes expected between Mumbai India and Lagos –Nigeria via the new Entebbe connecting hub .
Industry players have welcomed this business strategic thinking by Uganda Airlines noting that it will spur trade across Africa ,boost tourism and showcase a working network model that can encourage other airlines and governments to open up the African airspace for commerce and free movement of people .
“But now that Uganda Airlines has connecting flights its important that government through the Civil Aviation Authority expedites plans to improve facilities at Entebbe international airport to allow the travelers have a truly Ugandan warm- welcoming experience at the lounging facilities . We must build capacity to handle huge numbers of both people and cargo otherwise all the efforts being undertaken by Uganda Airlines will be ruined ,” Francis Musisi an aviation expert told ugandaupdatenews.com
Excited Nigerians at Lagos Murtala Muhammad international airport as Uganda Airlines touched down
Uganda Airlines CEO Jenifer Bamuturaki stated thus :“Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy while Uganda’s central location on the continent makes it the ideal connection hub between East, West, North and Southern Africa,” at the Lagos route launch event .
Bamuturaki explained the significant of Uganda Airlines network growth noting that apart from alleviating the nightmare faced by travelers who endure long transit layovers before connecting to their final destinations via Europe , UA’s network is convenient and time saving .
“Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy while Uganda’s central location on the continent makes it the ideal connection hub between East, West, North and Southern Africa. The direct flights will yield significant time savings for our guests who will be terminating their journeys in Uganda and those who may wish to travel onward within our network to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, Mombasa, Juba, Bujumbura, Kinshasa, Dubai, Mogadishu or Johannesburg and Mumbai,” Bamuturaki stated .
Uganda Airlines should also bring forward its plans to grow its fleet by adding a couple of mid-range aircraft to meet increasing demand for its services especially for movement of cargo .
On touching down in Lagos the Uganda Airlines 258-seat state-of-the-art Airbus A330-800 neo was accorded the time-honoured tradition -water salute. In this welcoming ritual, also known as a shower of affection, two fire engines parked on either side of the runway use their water cannons to create a giant arc above a plane as it taxies to its gate on its successful maiden route .
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