Veteran airline captain Mike Mukula warns that the revival of Ugandan airlines might run into turbulence if the government does not stem the increasing flight of trained pilots. .
Mukula is concerned that the country is losing many trained personnel especially pilots to brain drain as many prefer to seek greener pastures in countries that already have an active airline. Mukula goes on to accuse the Minister of Transport Monica Azuba Ntege of politicizing the airline issue.
Mukula says many Ugandan trained flight personnel have ended up plying their trade in Rwanda, Mali, Ethiopia when these people should be working here.
A retired pilot himself, Mukula is concerned that by the time Uganda revives its airline, it might not have staff to fly the planes.
He says many trained pilots are leaving the country because they are frustrated at the slow pace to revive the national carrier. He says while the country could reap big from the airline, efforts to get it off the ground have been sabotaged by Works and transport minister Monica Azuba.
Mukula argues that, “The local and domestic routes are still virgin as the country readies for international routes but would be better if we focus on cargo because there are already active airlines.”
Mukula says that while government has cleared Uganda airline the transport minister has abandoned the technical committee put in place by president Museveni to monitor progress of the airline, as she prefers to work with the ministry officials.
The former Soroti Municipality Member of Parliament Mukula angrily charges, “It does not make sense to send technical people to buy airplanes when they cannot differentiate between a cock pit or anything.”
But minister Azuba rebuts, “That is not true, we have a technical team handling these process, I am a civil engineer for example I can not take part in purchasing planes.”
Azuba says that, “It’s unfortunate that Mike Mukula is saying that.”
Monica Azuba says Uganda has already paid a commitment fee to start the manufacture of the first batch of bombardier planes which Uganda will use on domestic and local routes to neighboring countries.
Azuba reveals that, “We have paid over 4 billion as commitment fee. We were delayed because there was no money and the PPDA procedures had to be followed to the dot.”
Minister Monica Azuba Ntege says the first planes are expected early next year not in November this year as earlier announced.