It was a historic moment on Tuesday morning as Uganda Airlines took to the sky for its maiden flight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in neighboring Kenya.
The Uganda Airlines CRJ900 5x Kob Bombadier left Entebbe International Airport a few minutes after 11:10 am and was expected to touch ground in Kenya 45 minutes later and aboard included technical officers, government officials and members of the media fraternity.
Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda and the Minister for Works and Transport, Monica Ntege Azuba arrived at the airport a few minutes to 10 am to officiate the maiden flight for the Uganda Airlines.
Guest were entertained by local dancers before the departure of the national carrier and among the first passengers aboard the aircraft was kickboxer Moses Golola who could not hide his excitement.
“I hope they will serve us a local dish while on board. I can’t wait to step into the new plane,” the motor-mouthed kickboxer said.
At the function, President Museveni in a speech given by Rugunda said the national carrier will earn government an extra $450 million that was in the past going to other airlines.
“Each year, Ugandans were donating $450 million to other countries through foreign travels and this is a lot of money,” Museveni said in his speech delivered by Rugunda.
“There has never been a better time to resume commercial flights than now when the number of passengers is increasing every day.”
Delivering on promise
Museveni said by the Uganda Airlines taking to the skies, the ruling NRM government was delivering on a promise it had done during the 2016 presidential campaigns.
This pledge was done in order to reduce the cost of air transport and also ease connectivity to and from Uganda. Besides, there was a lot of inconvenience by not having direct flights and even being charged discriminatory fairs,” Museveni noted.
He said by Uganda Airlines taking to the skies again, it would not only boost the number of tourists coming to Uganda but also the country’s economy will grow.
The Minister for Works, Eng. Monica Ntege Azuba said despite the long wait for the national carrier to return being costly to the country, its revival would serve a big purpose to the economy.
“This is another milestone but the Uganda Crane will not only take to the sky but will grow bigger and better,” Azuba said.
She, however, warned the Uganda Airlines staff of the big and daunting task ahead as they try to keep the national airline afloat.
About Uganda Airlines
The national carrier collapsed 20 years ago but government three years ago kick-started the process of its revival but many have been skeptical about the viability of the project.
The Uganda National Airlines Company will operate four CRJ900 Bombardier jetliners in dual-class configuration with 76 economy seats and 12 first-class seats.
The new CRJ-series atmosphere cabin owned by Uganda are the first to be owned by an airline in Africa.
The Uganda Airlines commercial flights that begin on Wednesday will go to Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, and Mogadishu.
Other destinations including Kilimanjaro, Juba and Mombasa will be added later.
According to the Works Minister, other destinations including Khartoum, Kinshasa, Kigali, Lubumbashi, Harare, Lusaka, Addis Ababa, Zanzibar and Johannesburg will be added after the arrival of the other two CRJ-900s aircraft set to arrive in September.