By Gad Masereka
Uganda Airlines is set to acquire another CRJ-900 bombardier aircraft. That means the national airliner fleet will rise from two to three aircraft.
This was revealed by transport and works minister Monica Azuba, who this said thatafternoon. She said the aircraft is expected in the country next month (July), while the fourth will arrive in September. The two aircrafts are part of the four CRJ-900s government ordered from Canada’s Bombardier Aerospace for the revival of Uganda Airlines.
Minister Azuba added that the government of Uganda had made “a 20 percent pre-delivery payment” on the two remaining aircrafts and that they will be fully paid for in the financial year 2019- 2020. She added that before this financial year ends, government will make a down payment of Shs74b ($20m) on the two A330-800neos, which will be used for long haul flights and the remaining two A330-800 neo are expected to arrive in the country in December 2020, and the second in January 2021 respectively. In the coming financial year, the ministry of works and transport was allocated Shs6.5 trillion, whereby Shs575b will go the Airlines Company for (Shs445b) payments of aircraft and (Shs129b for) operations.
The CRJ-900s, with a sitting capacity of 76 passengers each, were specifically recommended in a feasibility study for revival of Uganda Airlines. The long haul flights are expected to commence between December 2020 and January 2021 when the Airbus A330-800neos are delivered. The main competitors in the long haul market are Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Emirates Airlines, KLM, Egyptair, Turkish airlines, and others. Some of the destinations in the long haul market include London, Dubai, Brussels, Doha, Mumbai, Lagos, and Johannesburg. Ms Azuba said the target for the maiden commercial flight to Nairobi remains July despite the vast amount of work at hand, including finalisation of the certification process. “The regulator (Civil Aviation Authority) is working very closely with the Airlines team to fast-track the certification process,” she said.
In the coming financial year, the works sector will consume 16.2 per cent of the Shs40.3 trillion budget; besides Uganda Airlines, Shs4.3 trillion will go to Uganda National Roads Authority, and Uganda Road Fund Shs476b. UNRA’s allocation of Shs4.3 trillion, up from Shs3.1 trillion, is expected to go to the “critical oil roads” in the Albertine Graben to facilitate the ongoing oil activities, and for tarmac of 400 kilometres, rehabilitation of 200 kilometres national roads and 814 kilometres of district, urban and community access roads.