Joy as Uganda Airlines makes maiden flight to India

Business

It was joy and happiness for the Ugandan delegation led by the Works and Transport Minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala after they landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Mahara International Airport, Mumbai.

This was Uganda Airlines Maiden Flight to India that is believed by airline officials to be the gateway to the 1.4 billion market in India.

The route now becomes the second international Uganda Airlines direct route after the Entebbe-Dubai route and the 12th on the Uganda Airline route Network.

Saturday 7th October was not a usual day for the national carrier, the Uganda Airlines. Smiles filled the room as the officials briefed journalists a few minutes to the boarding time.

“ I am happy to announce that our second International route , Entebbe Mumbai after Entebbe Dubai, this is our 12th  route on the network,” Jenifer Bamuturaki the Uganda Airlines CEO remarked.

The direct route, that goes for $480 for a round trip, about 1.7 million Uganda shillings, takes an average of about five to six hours cutting down travel time between Kampala and Mumbai from the 12 hours previously with long overlays of about one hour. This to airline officials, makes commercial sense. According to Adedayo Olawuyi, Uganda Airlines Commercial Director , the National will carry 20 to 30% of the passenger traffic on the route plus cargo .

Transport and works Minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala highlighted the strategic importance of the  route.

“ The route opens up Uganda to India , and vast trade opportunities in medicine , trade, education, and Technology,” he said.

The National Planning Authority that did the feasibility study of the Airline, making a strong case for revival, is convinced that the airline is already impacting the country positively.

“Our modeling for the airline was to structure it as an infrastructure and not as a vehicle for making profits. But even when you view it from that point, the Airline is making money in your pockets, when you buy a cheaper air ticket from Uganda Airlines, you will have keep the remaining money in your pockets”  Dr. Joseph Muvawala , the Executive Director NPA noted.

The Indian high commissioner to Uganda Upender Sigh Rawat noted that business is going to become swifter henceforth.

“Travel back home has been a hurdle, we had to connect via Addis Ababa , Cairo and elsewhere and it would take around 10 to 12 hours .  This reduction to just 6 hours will hasten business operations and even to the Ugandans who import merchandise from India “

Grateful to this milestone is the Indian community in Uganda that now has the luxury of crisscrossing the two cities with minimal inconvenience.

Prior to the flight, we took off a few minutes to speak to the pilot in command Captain Robert Wahkweya Bwayo the Chief Pilot Uganda Airlines.

“ It has not been easy to obtain permissions through all the countries that lay along this direct route. But to be the one operating this route on the maiden flight UR430, I am humbled.”

It was now time for set off of flight Number UR430 aboard this A330 600 Neo Airbus

All through the Journey, Indians on board looked emotional, but patiently waited to go home. Since it was some time in between we could not do much, but behold the beauty of the setting sun and skies of Muscat.

The Ugandan delegation was received by the Ugandan Ambassador to India and it was all smiles here.

Prof. Joyce Kikafunda - Ugandan High Commissioner to India who welcomed the Ugandan delegation.

“ This is a game changer, and the big milestone in the Uganda India relations,” she noted.

The smiling chairman of the physical Infrastructure committee Dan Kimosho on arrival said that “ As Parliament, it gives us great joy to see that all the areas where we provide oversight register success. Now more than ever before, we are fully committed to supporting the National Carrier “

While the airline has plans of purchasing more fleet including mid range air crafts and cargo freighters to accommodate the expanding route network, this A330 Neo aircraft did not return to Entebbe with an empty belly as it carried some 5 tonnes of cargo

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