Works and Transport minister Monica Azuba Ntege on Friday inaugurated the first Board of Directors of Uganda Airlines.
The seven directors will be chaired by Ahabwe Godfrey Pereza, a former MP for Rubanda East constituency and Minister of State for Local Government.
Benon Kajuna, a transport economist will represent Ministry of Works and Transport while Godfrey Ssemugooma will represent Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
Other members are; Catherine Asinde Poran and Rehema Mutazindwa, both from the private sector and Charles Hamya and Stephene Aziku Zua.
“The Interim Board worked tirelessly to reach where we are. The new Board must build on this and ensure good supervision to deliver on the Business Plan for the National Airline,” Azuba said.
She said Uganda is a non-coastal country and the Government of Uganda attaches a lot of importance to the Aviation sub-sector because it guarantees the country direct international access.
Government’s principal aviation objective is to ensure that Uganda’s air links makes it one of the best connected countries in the World so that it can compete favourably for economic growth opportunities.
“We came up with a strategy to leverage Uganda’s geographical location to become a regional hub for air transport. Government approved the process of setting up a National Airline to enhance our competitiveness by reducing cost of air transport & easing connectivity to & from Uganda.”
The process started with the appointment of the National Airline Taskforce in August 2017 by H.E Kaguta Museveni.
The objective of the Taskforce was to develop a comprehensive Business Plan for establishment of the National Airline which was finally approved by Cabinet on 22/12/17.
Consequently, the Uganda National Airline Company Ltd was incorporated On January 30, 2018 and an Interim Board of three (3) Directors was appointed to carry-out the airline set up and implement the plans to launch the Airline.
Funding for the National Airline is in place; recruitment of key staff for the National airline has been completed and training is on-going; the first two bombardier aircrafts were received on April 23, 2019 and commercial operations are expected to commence in July 2019.
“I would like to applaud the Interim Board for this great performance which has made Uganda proud. This precedence must be maintained.”
She said the New Board must build on this and ensure there is good supervision and oversight of the Uganda National Airline Company Ltd to deliver on the Business Plan for the National Airline.
Issues of launching of the commercial operations, domestic connectivity, ground handling, employment, pricing and profitability of the National Airline are of keen interest to Ugandans.
Government is undertaking a number of interventions in the aviation sector which are aimed at developing Uganda as an aviation hub.
Government is upgrading and expanding the infrastructure and facilities at Entebbe International Airport to accommodate current and future air traffic and to also make Entebbe Airport comply with ICAO safety requirements.
Construction works on-going and will be completed in FY 2019/202. Undertaking the development of Kabaale International Airport in Hoima to support the oil and gas sector. Construction works are ongoing (currently at 23% progress).
Government through CAA owns and operates fourteen (14) national airports. These are Arua, Entebbe, Gulu, Jinja, Kasese, Kidepo, Kisoro, Lira, Masindi, Mbarara, Moroto, Pakuba, Soroti, and Tororo.
Plans to upgrade these Aerodromes to international standards are underway and work has already started on some of them like Arua, Gulu and Kasese airports.
Already, Government gazetted Arua, Kasese, Gulu, Pakuba and Kidepo Aerodromes as entry and exit points for international traffic.
This was done to enable the country to have more direct international entry and exit points so as to promote tourism and business in the country.
Government is managing the East African Civil Aviation Academy (Soroti Flying School). The Academy trains Pilots and Aircraft Engineers and recently attained certifications for Aviation Training and Maintenance.
This Financial Year, Government signed New Bilateral Air Services Agreements with Canada, Israel and Switzerland; and also negotiated BASAs with Spain, Oman and Qatar.
Government is committed to expanding the Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs). Implementation of the above interventions will result into exponential growth in Uganda’s air traffic and provide more opportunities to Ugandans.
“Therefore, Uganda should take advantage of these interventions in the Sector and leverage its performance. As Government, we shall support and provide enabling environment for the growth of the Aviation industry in the country given its contribution to economic growth and development,” Azuba noted.
She said the aviation sector is a very sensitive, sophisticated and expensive industry.
“Customers attach a lot of importance on value of time & quality of service. Ugandans have high expectations for their Airline.” “It’s success will make a substantial contribution to the development of our country Uganda and the EAC region as a whole. I wish the New Board all the success in its new office and achieving the challenging tasks that lay ahead.”