Uganda Airlines faces a fast-paced end to the year, with three new routes scheduled for launch starting October 2023. The back-to-back launches, will be the much-delayed Lagos and Mumbai routes as well as Riyadh via Jeddah.
The three routes, which combined with their tags, will take the carrier’s route tally to 16, as well as Guangzhou and London which are still pending, are seen as critical to unlocking new destinations in Southern Africa whose launch had been put on hold. Talks have already commenced with Zambia and Zimbabwe for services to Lusaka and Harare.
Chief Executive Jenifer Bamuturaki, says Foreign Operators Permits (FOPs), have been secured from regulators in India, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. A technical team from Nigeria was in Uganda last week, for final assessments of Entebbe and Uganda Airlines readiness to launch the service.
The Nigerian FOP grants rights to Lagos and Abuja, with the understanding that Nigeria will enjoy reciprocal rights to Entebbe when Air Nigeria, their flag carrier in development, finally takes to the air.
For Uganda Airlines initial plans, the service to Lagos, will be operated using the carrier’s A330-800s, and was to be tagged to Accra but the latter destination has not gained traction.
The service to Nigeria will operate 3 times a week, and will be launched in tandem with flights to Mumbai, because the two destinations are tagged to exploit the opportunity for connecting traffic.
Earlier, Uganda Airlines expected to commence flights to Nigeria last July but was held back by slow regulatory processes. Those hurdles have now been cleared and it is all systems go. The airline has been flying teasers about the service to Mumbai for the past two months and the all three destinations have been loaded into the reservations system although sales are yet to open. Guangzhou, which has also been in the plans for a while, is expected to be the last new service launch for the year, sometime during November.
“We have everything we need to start. We have our offices already up and running in the three markets but we pushed the launch out to October, because we thought we would be somewhat swamped given the time between completing all regulatory certifications and the initial launch dates,” Bamuturaki says.
AirInsight now understands those regulatory hurdles to include the renewal of the carriers AOC by the Ugandan CAA but checks have been completed and the certificate is expected next week. Separately, both the carrier and the UCAA are due to undertake ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Program audit during September, and bot entities have been busy making sure all ends tally.