Uganda Airlines is all set to inaugurate its direct flight route from Entebbe Airport to Mumbai, India, on October 7, marking its second international route after Dubai. This development has raised hopes of achieving a more balanced trade relationship between Uganda and India.
Previously, the trade dynamics between the two nations appeared skewed, with Uganda importing more goods from India. General Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works, believes that the direct flight connection will help rectify this trade imbalance by facilitating increased exports of Ugandan products to India. He expressed this sentiment at the Uganda-India business forum, stating, “It has been more of us getting things from India than us taking things to India. I think this direct flight by Uganda Airlines will help us to kind of balance trade by exporting some more of our products to India.”
Moreover, the direct flight is expected to provide new market opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises in Uganda, enabling them to export their products to India.
Mumbai, also known as Bombay, serves as India’s primary commercial hub and ranks as the sixth most populous metropolitan area globally, with over 23 million residents. General Katumba noted, “This route will create a highway between India and Uganda. The Indian community in Uganda must also be excited.”
In addition to this development, the government has plans to expand Entebbe Airport to become a regional hub for enhanced connectivity. Government data reveals that the airport experienced its highest-ever passenger count in August 2023, with 191,000 travelers passing through. With the addition of the Indian community, this number is expected to surpass 200,000.
Speaking at the same forum, Jennifer Bamuturaki, CEO of Uganda Airlines, expressed optimism about the upcoming route, emphasizing the opportunities it presents. She stated, “This route opens up Uganda to one of the world’s largest economies, which positions us as a country for various opportunities. Our schedule will be three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Therefore, it will be dinner in Entebbe and breakfast in Mumbai. We can’t wait to welcome you aboard our maiden flight, UR 431.”
Elsie G Attafuah, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) resident representative to Uganda, highlighted the importance of trade in achieving economic prosperity, emphasizing that no country has ever achieved rapid economic growth without engaging in trade with others.