UGANDA AIRLINES TO BECOME AFRICAN LAUNCH CUSTOMER FOR AIRBUS’ NEW A330-800NEO
(Posted 15th October 2020)
As Uganda Airlines is progressively moving towards phase two of restarting operations after a nearly 7 months pandemic enforced absence from the skies with scheduled passenger flights, are now added objectives coming into play too.
The airline on 01st of October resumed flights from Entebbe to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Juba and Mogadishu and next to follow will be Bujumbura, Mombasa, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.
Also planned are the launch of services to Johannesburg, Kinshasa and Lusaka, all crucially important destinations to tap into a long haul potential from these destinations and countries, when the first of two new Airbus A338Neo’s arrive in Uganda.
The traffic base out of Entebbe as a stand alone will not be enough to generate the kind of load factors an airline needs to sustain long haul operations for now and it is therefore of great importance that additional passengers are sourced from across the regional and continental network, to transit in Entebbe and join a long haul flight from there.
Said the airline’s CEO Cornwell Muleya to ATCNews just two weeks ago when asked about the carrier’s long haul plans:
Q: From media reports I understand that both Airbus A330-800Neo are under assembly and will still arrive as initially planned, late this year and early next year. Will you stick to the launch plans for flights to Europe, the Gulf and Asia, especially considering you need to rebuild your network and boost passenger numbers connecting from across your network in Entebbe to long haul flights or will long haul destination launches be delayed as a result of the fallout of the pandemic?
Yes, the delivery schedule for the two A330-800neo aircraft remains as agreed. The aircraft will be delivered in December 2020 and January 2021 as planned. We are working hard to complete the paperwork required to get permissions to fly to the UK-London, UAE– Dubai and China- Guangzhou. As you can imagine, the lockdowns for #COVID19 have affected the pace of negotiations with the various countries and now that countries are opening up, this should get back on track. We intend to fly the A330-800neos as from January 2021.
Q: Uganda Airlines was planning to launch flights to London, if I am correct, to Gatwick but many people have asked me if you are considering a waypoint stop for instance in Frankfurt, given that Germany is – or has pre-pandemic been – a major source market for visitors to Uganda, with no direct flights?
We have applied to fly to both London Heathrow – LHR, and London Gatwick – LGW as a starting point for European connections. We continue to look at other viable points in Europe and I am certain Germany is one of the countries of interest sure.
All of the airline’s country managers and their sales teams are now tasked to begin drumming up market support for the airline’s long haul flights, which by the look of it will be some three months away and formal sales will commence when the new destination are launched in the global reservation systems to which Uganda Airlines has subscribed.
With the airline also joining the IATA clearing house for tickets just before the flight relaunch in the 01st of October has another hurdle been removed, leaving just landing slots at their long haul destinations of choice and in the case of London the choice of airport – Heathrow or Gatwick – to be resolved.
Meanwhile has the assembly of the first of the two Airbus A330-800Neos progressed even further and the required ground tests and test flights are expected to be performed in late November and early December, before the airline can then take formal delivery from Airbus in Toulouse. It will be a special occasion for not only Uganda Airlines, joining the wide body long haul operators in Africa but also for Airbus, as this will be the first ever delivery of the new A330-800Neo aircraft type to an African airline, making Uganda Airlines the continental launch customers.
ATCNews will in the run up to the delivery continue to provide updated information to readers, including pictorials of the new aircraft due for first delivery.
Links to relevant past articles: