By Our Reporters

Uganda Airlines was caught up in yet another big public embarrassment with protesting passengers when one of its aircrafts was delayed by  several hours at Nyerere (Dar es Salaam) International Airport  due to lack of fuel .

The latest setback is not good for the national airline which is faced -with an on-going investigation for alleged corruption and mismanagement -hardly two years since its revival. Sources attributed the fuel shortage problem to  “internal  senior management contradictions  and mistrust “ were credible fuel supply contracts signed by  suspended CEO Cornwell Muleya were bypassed with the new – acting management bringing on board new suppliers .

“ From what am gathering, its their fuel supplier who had a shortage and the other fuelers refused to step in hence delaying the flight until their agents trucks arrived at the airport ,”  a credible source told this publication.

But furious passengers who reached out to questioned management’s decision to fly the aircraft when they were not sure of its fuel supply . “ Why did they board passengers in the first place with no fuel?  It’s not allowed . This kind of thing can ground an aircraft in a foreign land. Is our aircraft supposed to fly to a destination as near as Dar without return fuel ?,” an angry passenger questioned .

Industry experts said that already -Uganda Airlines has had a reduction in the number of flights due to the global Covid-19 pandemic -meaning the planes are underutilized and therefore the cost of maintaining them is high .

About the lack of  fuel fiasco , an aviation  expert who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter said that it was normal  for airlines to refuel even if the distance is short . “Fuel is weight and every additional kilo you carry means additional fuel burn for the trip. Airlines only carry the fuel they need for the trip to save money . You only carry return fuel in situations where refueling at the destination is not possible,” the expert explained .

However ,the source wondered why Uganda Airlines didn’t not have contingent plans to refuel in Dar es Salaam forcing a prolonged delayed that angered passengers. “That must be a management issue which should be sorted in order not to dent the Airline’s brand image further.”

Uganda airline has since put out a brief statement thus ; “ Allow us to apologise for the prolonged delay at Julius Nyerere International Airport , Dar es Salaam that occurred yesterday , 12 July 2021 on our flight UR 321.  Our service was affected by a mix-up in delayed fuel delivery to the Aircraft caused by our supplier  in Dar es Salaam.  We have taken up the matter with them to ensure a repeat of the same does  not reoccur in future .“

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