By Spy Uganda
Uganda Airlines is looking to frequency growth and an interline agreement with flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) to shore up traffic on its Entebbe-Johannesburg route and to tap into the wider southern Africa market. The carrier added a fifth flight to the service starting March 1, to plug leakages of traffic to competitors and to support a burgeoning cargo business, officials said.
The new schedule now has flights operating on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. “The route has a lot of potential because of the strong demand for business, conferences, education, and leisure travel. We are looking to develop this route to support these market segments,” says Shakila Lamar, the manager for corporate affairs and public relations at the carrier.
She adds that the route’s potential had been somewhat blunted by the fact that the carrier could not offer onward travel to destinations beyond Johannesburg in South Africa and the southern Africa region in general. However, that will be resolved in the near future, when an interline with SAA starts operating, extending Uganda Airlines’ reach beyond Johannesburg.
Significant Leakages Of Traffic
The tendency for last-minute bookings by travelers on the route was resulting in “significant leakages” of traffic. A tighter schedule with more options for travel on the carrier is expected to consolidate passenger traffic. The easing or removal of Covid19 travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers in South Africa and Uganda is also expected to generate additional demand.
While flights on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday will be operated using the Mitsubishi CRJ900, the Friday service will use an Airbus A330-800. Shakila says this is because of the heavy demand for cargo on the outbound leg, driven by growing exports of fruits and fresh vegetables. Beef and legumes are also expected to join the list of South Africa-bound products from Uganda.
The two countries at the end of February concluded this year’s edition of the Uganda and South Business Forum, where Ugandan firms secured commitments for more than one million tons of produce.
“We are looking at improving connectivity and could even go daily as the loads pick up,” Shakila said. Uganda Airlines is closing in on a decision to grow its fleet with a mid-sized aircraft type.