Uganda airlines: minister defends airbus A330-800 neo series

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Monica Ntege, works minister, addressing press a t Uganda Media Centre

Monica Azuba Ntege, the minister of works and transport, says the revival of the National Airline is based on the need to enhance the country’s competitiveness by reducing the cost of air transport and easing connectivity to and from Uganda.

Defending the airline against negative press on Tuesday, Azuba said Uganda wants to support faster harnessing of opportunities in the economy to promote tourism, agriculture, minerals, oil and gas and meet the growing demand for air transport (passenger and cargo).

Negotiation of purchase agreement for (4) Regional Aircrafts with Bombardier has been concluded and the agreement signed thus paving way for payment of the pre-delivery money.

The one with Airbus A330-800 neo series is yet to be concluded.

Why A330-800

Azuba said the headline of the East African newspaper “Uganda Airlines to fly the unwanted Airbus 300 neo”, is misleading as it seems to suggest that the A330neo is an unwanted aircraft while the opposite is in fact true.

She said industry figures show that the A330 family of aircraft is the most popular aircraft in its class and is preferred by the majority of airlines worldwide.

The A330 family of aircraft has the largest customer base in its class with 105 customers worldwide compared with only 41 customers for its direct competitor the B787.

“However what is clear is that Hawaiian Airlines had performed an aircraft evaluation, similar to what Uganda Airlines has done, and had initially also selected the A330-800neo for the same good reasons which include, its range payload advantage, its fuel efficient new engine, revamped cabin and other enhancements in comparison with other aircraft types including the B787 which they have now reverted to.”

She said this reinforces the advantage of the A330 neo. The change of order by the Airline was mainly on Political grounds according to sources.

Lack of understanding of the aircraft “family concept”

She said aircrafts are manufactured on a “family basis concept (Airbus, Boeing, etc with similar commonality in terms of fuselage, technology and operational features.

The A330 neo therefore is essentially the same aircraft as the previous version namely the A330 ceo (common engine option which was the A330-200 and the A330-300) for which Airbus has more than 1,700 orders.

The new engine option (neo) brings additional operating efficiencies to this aircraft family and uses a better more technologically advanced engine and that is why it is called the “neo”.

The A330-800 is therefore not a new aircraft but an enhancement of the existing variant.

Similarly the airbus 330 800 neo is not “in development” as alleged in the article: this is a misunderstanding of family concept.

The A330neo (A330-900 variant) is already delivered to other customers such as TAP Portugal and is flying today.

This is the bigger version of the neo series and has the same new engines and improved technologies as the 800 version selected by Uganda Airlines.

Uganda Airlines

The A330-800 variant will have a shorter fuselage allowing it to fly longer and further than the current 900 version.

This range payload performance is what is required for Uganda Airlines to operate non-stop flights on long routes to China and the Far East.

It is important therefore to understand that the A330-800neo is not an aircraft being designed from scratch but is already within the family as the A330-200 version.

In addition, the A330 has a large operator base with 99% spares commonality across the fleets making it easy to maintain: a key component in aircraft selection is the availability of spares and support arrangements for the aircraft across the intended network.

The 99% commonality across the A330 family (from the A330-200/300 up to the A330-800/900) in terms of spares and components lowers the potential cost of maintenance for this aircraft compered to others.

This enables maintenance services to be shared across airlines with spares being available in many places worldwide and reduces inventory levels and operating costs for the airline.

In conclusion, the A330 was found to be the best entry level wide body aircraft in its class: in the past 5 years, 2014-2018, a total of 30 airlines started long haul flights for the first time with new technology aircraft around the world.

Out of these 26 airlines chose the A330 as their start up aircraft while only 4 airlines chose the competitor Boeing 787 as their first wide-body.

This is an 87% confidence verdict in favour of the A330 for long-haul operation start-up, compared to the 787 on account of the A330 good performance and lower financial cost.

Background:

After the collapse of the East African Community in 1977 and the subsequent dissolution of the EA Airways, the Government of Uganda established Uganda Airlines as its National Carrier.

As a result of the airline liquidation in 2001, Uganda was left without a National Airline, hence leaving the services and fares of air travel at the mercy of foreign airlines who in most cases took advantage to overcharge and at times mishandle Ugandan travellers.

The absence of a National Airline has also adversely affected foreign visitors and tourists traveling to and from Uganda.

The Government therefore has taken a decision to revive the National Airline as announced by President Museveni in January 2017.

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