By Frank Kamuntu
Entebbe: Uganda Airlines, the fledgling national carrier, has added a seventh destination to its network and a second in neighbouring country Kenya.
The airline has opened a route between Entebbe airport, and Mombasa, Kenya’s main tourist destination on the eastern coastline. Flights will operate three times per week on Monday, Friday and Sunday.
Uganda Airlines relaunched operations in August 2019 and now flies from Entebbe to Juba, Bujumbura, Dar-es-Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mogadishu, Nairobi and Mombasa. It is hoped the latest route will help to boost trade and tourism between Uganda and Kenya.
“We are working with different stakeholders including the Kenya Tourism Board, hoteliers and travelling agents to ensure the airline rules the skies,” Uganda Airlines sales manager Kenya Lenny Malasi told the Media on Monday.
Mombasa is the second-largest city in Kenya and next month will host Routes Africa 2019, the continent’s longest-standing and most-established aviation forum.
According to Official airline Guide (OAG) Schedules Analyser, the last non-stop flights between Entebbe and Mombasa ended in July 2014 when Air Uganda suspended operations. Mombasa has been unserved from Uganda ever since.
Despite the lack of direct air service, the number of two-way passengers between Uganda and Mombasa has remained steady. Data from Sabre Market Intelligence shows 14,538 two-way passengers travelled indirectly in 2018, compared with 16,787 in 2013.
Until the revival of Uganda Airlines, Uganda had been without a national airline since a previous incarnation of Uganda Airlines collapsed in 2001. Meanwhile, privately owned Air Uganda ceased operations five years ago.
Uganda Airlines currently has four Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft in its fleet in a two-class, 76-seat configuration, with 12 business class and 64 economy seats.
It also has two Airbus A330-800neos on order, which it intends to use to build its international long-haul network. The aircraft will feature a three-class cabin layout comprising 20 business, 28 premium economy and 213 economy seats.
Speaking earlier this month, Dr David Kakuba, director general of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, said the arrival of the new wide-body aircraft would allow the carrier to add countries like England, India and China to its network.