Democratic Party (DP) president General Norbert Mao has called into question the viability of the revived Uganda Airlines on the day the country received two CRJ900 Bombardier aircraft that will be part of the fleet.
Speaking to journalists at DP’s party headquarters in Kampala, Mao described the Uganda Airlines as a prestige project that will not benefit Ugandans.
Mao wondered how Uganda Airlines expects to make a profit yet airlines in the neighbourhood are struggling to stay airborne. He said, “Rwanda airways is fighting losses, South African airways is posting losses and also Kenya airways is in trouble.”
In the joint press conference, People’s Development Party (PDP) president Dr Abed Bwanika included his unease.
Former presidential candidate Bwanika challenged, “Before we celebrate, we need to know the owner of the airlines. President Museveni should tell us publically who the owner of the airline is.”
Bwanika contested for presidency in the 2011 and 2016 general elections.
Bwanika said that though Uganda Airlines could help boost the tourism sector in Uganda, Ugandans need to demand for accountability in the nascent aviation industry.
He said Ugandans should demand that President Museveni accounts for the ten planes that made up the original Uganda Airlines founded in 1977.
“Thirty three years ago (in 1986) you found us with twelve airplanes but you have brought only two, the people of Uganda should asked Museveni for the remaining ten,” Bwanika said at DP’s weekly press conference.
He concluded, “For us who know the history of the planes (airlines), we have no reason to celebrate because it was there in place.”
Ownership of the Uganda Airlines was called into question on the floor of parliament in March 2019.
Minister for Works and Transport, Monica Ntege Azuba wondered in parliament that, “We have information that Uganda national airlines is owned by an individual person, a Ugandan. But if we are going to trade under the name of Uganda Airlines as government, are we going to do it in partnership with the owner of Uganda Airlines?”
Atim Joy Ongom, the Lira Woman MP, said she had heard that Uganda has only 0.001% shares in the venture while the rest 99.9% belongs to powerful individuals in this government.
A day later, the same works minister made a U-turn and thanked the MPs for highlighting the ‘error’ in the ownership, adding that as of today, Wednesday March 27, 2019, the airline is fully-owned by the Ugandan government with ministry of Finance and ministry of Works owning 50 per cent shareholding each. She insisted that not once has the soon-to-be revamped airline ever been owned by private individuals as alleged.
The original Uganda Airlines ceased operations in 2001.
Edited by David Tumusiime