Uganda Airlines is planning to introduce direct flights to Mumbai, India, starting on October 7. This move will mark the second international destination for the national carrier, following its existing route to Dubai. Additionally, the airline is eyeing Guangzhou, China, as its next destination, with plans to launch service there in November.
Uganda Airlines, with the code UR, intends to operate three weekly flights from Entebbe to both Mumbai and Lagos. Furthermore, the airline has secured landing rights in China since June of the previous year, which could potentially lead to one weekly flight to China.
Currently, the airline serves 13 destinations, with the majority being regional routes within Africa.
The recent oversight audit of Entebbe International Airport conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) could further bolster the local aviation industry. A favorable outcome of the audit may attract more airlines to Uganda and enable Uganda Airlines to expand its international routes, according to Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport. He emphasized that a positive audit result would build trust and confidence in Uganda’s airspace among aviation stakeholders.
The ICAO audit aims to assess Uganda’s adherence to international aviation standards and recommended operational practices. ICAO, a United Nations agency, plays a crucial role in monitoring and setting safety standards for the global aviation industry.
In 2017, Entebbe passed the ICAO universal safety audit, but it had not undergone the universal safety oversight audit since 2014. This delay in the audit was a contributing factor in the UK’s decision to delay allowing Uganda Airlines to operate direct flights to Heathrow.
After the recent oversight audit, the UK is expected to conduct its own safety and security audit of the airport based on the ICAO audit’s findings before making a decision on Uganda Airlines’ direct flights from Entebbe to Heathrow.
Manjang Kemo Ousman, the leader of the ICAO audit team, acknowledged the progress made in Uganda’s aviation sector but noted that there is more potential to unlock with additional investment and continued commitment to international safety standards.
Earlier this year, Uganda Airlines announced a partnership with Minar Travels(Indian) Pvt Ltd, a general sales agency in India, to support its launch and marketing efforts. This partnership aims to attract Indian travelers to Uganda and other African destinations served by Uganda Airlines.
Current destinations in Uganda Airlines’ network include cities in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia, and South Africa. The airline is also in discussions with authorities to potentially add more destinations in the near future, including Jeddah through Riyadh, Cape Town (South Africa), Goma (DRC), Harare (Zimbabwe), and Lusaka (Zambia).
South African destinations have become increasingly attractive for Uganda Airlines after Airlink, which had taken over routes from the now-defunct South African Airways, withdrew its service from Entebbe. Uganda Airlines has secured Pretoria’s approval to increase the number of flights to O.R Tambo to fill the gap left by Airlink.
Currently, the airline operates the Bombardier CRJ900 four times a week and the Airbus A330 once a week. It plans to increase its frequency to daily flights next month following Airlink’s official exit from the route. Airlink’s decision to withdraw was influenced by weak demand in both directions since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.