The first example of Uganda Airlines medium and long hall jets, the Airbus A330-800neo has rolled out of the paint shop at the manufacturers final assembly facilities in Toulouse, setting the stage for the third phase of the resurgent flag-carrier’s development.
With a rage slightly longer than 15,000 kilometres, Uganda Airlines can reach all major markets in the eastern and western hemispheres out of Entebbe.
Today, Airbus released images of the aircraft registration F-WWYS 1977, being pushed out of the paint shop. Information available indicates that the aircraft which is fully fitted with a passenger cabin will now undergo final ground tests and acceptance trials, ahead of handover in December.
256BN understands final payment on the first aircraft was made a week ago. Both the manufacturer and client Uganda Airlines have been working hard to catch-up on the delivery matrix which was partially disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Among key items on the matrix was the training of cockpit and cabin crew as well as line maintenance engineers among others.
Authority figures at the Ministry of Works and Transport have confirmed that delivery of the long haul fleet will follow the original schedule with the handover of the first airframe in December and the second one in January 2021. Negotiations for rights to Kinshasa, London, the Middle-east and China are also ongoing.
Uganda Airlines returned to the African skies in August 2019, four months after the tandem delivery the first two of four Bombardier CRJ-900 (now Mitsubishi Spacejet) aircraft. That fleet was used to open up the first set of regional routes. The second phase whose launch was interrupted by the shutdowns imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, will now start in the coming weeks with routes to Southern Africa, notably Johannesburg, Lusaka and Harare.
Although the CRJ has the legs to fly from Entebbe and Kinshasa, the character of that market with huge volume of baggage awaits the arrival of the A330’s.
It is not yet known which airport between London Heathrow and London Gatwick, the two majors gateways into the United Kingdom will be assigned to Uganda Airlines but the carrier has submitted applications for both. When the services commence, Uganda Airlines will be the only operator offering a non-stop connection between London and Entebbe and Johannesburg and Entebbe, following the withdrawal by British Airways and South African Airways from those routes respectively.
Uganda was the first to order the -800neo, the smaller sibling of the A330-900neo during the 2018 edition of the Farnborough airshow and might as well be the first to launch it into commercial operations. Kuwait Airways has an outstanding order for eight -800’s but has not taken delivery of any yet. An undisclosed customer holds orders for four units bringing the firm backlog of the -800neo to 14 aircraft, a number attributed to the relatively young fleet of the A330-200 current engine option, the aircraft it is replacing.