Uganda Airlines officially launched its inaugural flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, on 31 / 5 / 2021. This kick-started it’s direct commercial flights to the Southern African Region.
Upon touching down at OR Tambo International Airport the National Carrier was welcomed with a water salute in form of two fire-firing rigs spraying arcs of water onto it in honour and respect for its maiden commercial flight.
The airline was officially received by Uganda High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa H.E Amb. Barbara O. Nekesa accompanied by her Mission Staff, Officials from the South African Airports Authority, and Uganda Airlines Ground Handling Staff members resident in South Africa.
The maiden flight crew delegation members were led by the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. John Mitala. Other delegation members included the Permanent Secretary Ministry Of Works, Mr. Bageya Waiswa, the Management of Uganda Airlines led by Ms. Jennifer Bamuturaki and other Government Officials from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Works Uganda, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Uganda Media Team.
Ms. Jennifer Bamuturaki, in her remarks noted that the new route to Johannesburg will greatly improve in promoting economic growth, tourism and trade for both Uganda and Africa in general.
She added that Uganda Airlines covenants to offering the best service in terms of safety, great on-board experience, on-time flights and at competitive rates.
She informed that the Airlines will start the route with four flights weekly; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday but indicated that other factors held constant, they have plans to increase the numbers with time.
She pointed out that the route to Johannesburg compliments the rest of the destinations that are already operational on the continent such as Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Bujumbura, Dar-es-Salaam, Juba, Mogadishu, Mombasa, Kinshasa and Zanzibar.
The Permanent Secretary Mr. Bageya Waiswa in his remarks, expressed extreme pleasure for the inaugural flight.
He thanked the Government of South Africa for designating the route for Uganda Airlines and noted that Uganda and South Africa have had a long standing Bilateral Air Services Agreement whose privileges Uganda had not enjoyed because Uganda was not flying the Johannesburg route.
He added that Uganda Airlines was not in the skies for two decades and that having it back in the skies now is a grand milestone that deserved the celebration. He highlighted that with over 2million travellers going through Entebbe International Airport, the Entebbe/Johannesburg route was a demand-driven one.
He declared that the routes Uganda Airlines is operationalising will promote intra-African trade, under the AfCFTA, enhance a united Africa, create more direct links on the continent and beyond, promote trade/business, opportunities for investment and labour movement.
In her remarks the High Commissioner Amb. Barbara O. Nekesa highlighted that the direct route from Entebbe to Johannesburg will go a long way in reducing the travel hours and cost of travel between the two destinations.
She urged all stakeholders to spread the word about the route, embrace it and promote it earnestly for its sustainability and accrued benefits of promoting commercial diplomacy, trade, tourism and access to advanced specialised medical treatment among many other benefits.
She expressed her excitement about the milestone, and pledged that through her office she will go the extra mile to market the Airline to the Uganda Diaspora, the Diverse Business Community in her area of accreditation, and other prospective clients.
In his remarks the Head of Delegation Dr. John Mitala informed that Uganda previously had a national carrier but due to challenges in the past its operations ceased.
He however urged all stakeholders that with the revamping of the National Carrier, lessons should be learnt from the challenges that led to closure of airlines before sustainability of the newly revamped one going forward.
He remarked that with the longstanding cordial relations that Uganda enjoys with South Africa predating the apartheid days running into the current times, it goes without saying that promotion and supporting of the Airline’s operations in this region should be an easy task. He advised the leadership of the Airlines to offer servant leadership for a successful service delivery.
All the dignitaries present expressed their excitement for the Entebbe/ Johannesburg route, pledged to support the Airlines in their respective dockets, appreciated the South African Government for the support in the process of launching the Airline, the South African Airports Authority, and called upon every stakeholder to promote and support the Uganda Airlines.