East Africa’s Airspace Gets Crowded As Uganda Plans National Airline Revival

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

East Africa’s airspace is getting crowded by the increasing number of commercial airlines plying the region and is likely to get even more competitive if Uganda successfully revives its national carrier.

President Yoweri Museveni wants search for a strategic investor who will help revive Uganda Airlines found urgently. He termed the lack of a national airlines in the East African landlocked country as “a big shame”, The Monitor reported.

“Ugandan travelers are suffering because of, apparently, not having a national airline,” Museveni said during his first address to country’s new Cabinet on June 23. “I thought that our brothers in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, etc. having airlines would serve all of us. That, however, is apparently not the case,” he added.

Uganda Airlines was shutdown  in 2001 and liquidated under to pay the over $6 million debt it had accumulated since it was established in 1976 by Dictator Idi Amin.

If revived, the airline will add to the increasing number of airlines operating in East Africa.

Currently the region is covered by Ethiopian Airlines (Africa’s most profitable carrier), Kenya Airways, which  dominates routes in the region buthas posted loses for the last three years, RwandAir, the national carrier of Rwanda, and several low-cost carriers including Jambojet and Fastjet, which is in the process of raising funds to cover its cash flow shortages.

According to The East African, Kenya airways has been capitalizing on the absence of national carriers in some of the Eastern and Southern African countries such as Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi to charge high fares.

Airlines companies in the region are also ramping up their fleet size, with RwandAir adding two new Airbus aircraft that will allow it to add medium and long-haul flights to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Earlier in June, Lufthansa, one of Europe’s leading airline, said it was planning to  deploy a larger aircraft between Frankfurt and Nairobi, and increased its frequency to the region to four times a week from three.

Other governments on the continent on the continent, including Nigeria, South Sudan and Zambia, are also charting ways of reviving or launching their own national carriers, Quarts Africa reported.

About five million passengers as denied the opportutnity to travel between African countries each year due to “unnecessary restrictions on establishing air routes”, According to a study done by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).