Uganda’s national carrier Uganda Airlines has launched flights to India shortly after expanding another route to Nigeria.
According to the Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Bamuturaki, the inaugural flight to Mumbai will take off on October 7 2023 noting that the the route is a strategic entry into the big Indian Market.
”This route is important to the airline because of the anticipated traffic that we will accrue for the network. The route means a lot to our Indian brothers and sisters because it will reduce the journey times from 9 hours to exactly 5 and half hours. This route also opens up Uganda to one of the world’s largest economies and which positions us as a country to various opportunities”. Bamuturaki said
Bamuturaki further noted that Uganda Airlines will be flying three times a week that is every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
In a dynamic end-of-year move, Uganda Airlines is set to embark on three new routes, all scheduled for launch in October. These much-anticipated routes include the long-awaited Lagos and Mumbai services, as well as Riyadh via Jeddah, marking a significant expansion for the carrier.
The launch of these three routes, coupled with their associated connections, will bolster Uganda Airlines’ route network to a total of 16 destinations. This expansion is particularly pivotal for unlocking new Southern African destinations, some of which were temporarily put on hold due to various factors. Discussions are already underway with Zambia and Zimbabwe for potential services to Lusaka and Harare.
Bamuturaki recently highlighted that the carrier has secured Foreign Operators Permits (FOPs) from regulatory authorities in India, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia.
According to sources, a technical team from Nigeria recently visited Uganda for final assessments of Entebbe International Airport and the overall readiness of Uganda Airlines to commence the Lagos and Mumbai services. The FOP for Nigeria covers rights to Lagos and Abuja, with a reciprocal understanding that Nigeria will enjoy similar rights to Entebbe once Nigeria Air, their forthcoming flag carrier, becomes operational.
Uganda Airlines has chosen to operate its initial Lagos service using the Airbus A330-800s in its fleet. The Lagos route, which is planned to operate three times a week, will be launched simultaneously with the flights to Mumbai. This strategic pairing of the two destinations aims to maximize the potential for connecting traffic and passenger convenience.
The airline’s plans to initiate flights to Nigeria were initially set for July of the previous year, but regulatory complexities posed delays. However, these hurdles have now been cleared, and the airline is fully prepared for takeoff. The buzz around the Mumbai service has been building for the past two months, with all three new destinations already integrated into the reservations system, even though ticket sales have yet to commence.
As Uganda Airlines gears up for these new routes, it’s also worth noting that Guangzhou, China, which has been on the carrier’s radar for a while, is projected to be the final addition to its expanding network this year, with a potential launch date set for November.
Bamuturaki expressed confidence in the airline’s readiness, stating, “We have everything we need to start. We have our offices already up and running in the three markets but we pushed the launch out to October because we thought we would be somewhat swamped given the time between completing all regulatory certifications and the initial launch dates.”