Uganda’s national carrier, the Uganda Airlines’ first brand new Airbus aircraft A330neo is going to be flown by Ugandans from the manufacturer’s headquarters in Toulouse, France to Entebbe International airport on Monday.
Gen. Katumba Wamala, the minister for works has disclosed that the government has fully completed payment of the first aircraft and it will be flown home by Ugandan pilots who have undergone training at the Airbus headquarters for some time.
Captain Michael Etiang, the Uganda Airlines chief pilot will lead the team, which includes crew members who have been in Toulouse for training.
The plane will be received by President Yoweri Museveni on arrival at Entebbe on Tuesday at a colorful ceremony that will include a water salute.
Katumba, speaking from Crowne Plaza Hotel in Toulouse in France where he led a delegation of local officials applauded the Airbus Company for having been cooperative.
He said the company had been able not only to sell their aircraft to Uganda but also supported the training and technical aspects of the spare parts of the aircraft.
“Yes the aircraft will be flown by Ugandan pilots, something we should be proud of because it shows the capacity the country has at the moment,” he explained.
According to the minister, many experienced Ugandan pilots have been employed by other companies elsewhere but they have been mobilised to return home.
“Many of them (pilots) have been scattered all over the world doing jobs with other airlines but they are back home and Ugandans should be proud of them,” he explained.
He said the Airbus craft will give Uganda Airlines ‘an operational advantage of being able to fly straight to bigger cities in the world’.
He said after the Uganda Airlines has already mapped out long routes where the two crafts will be flying to. These include Guanghou and Beijing cities in China, London (Heathrow) in the United Kingdom and to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as the first routes.
“While the Bombardiers can fly to the region, the Airbus crafts will do long range routes,” he said. According to the minister, the second plane from the same company will as well be paid for and completed by end of January 2021. He appealed to the Ugandan business community to make use of the new services and give priority to their own services.
“So the Ugandan traders who have been trading in China and elsewhere who have been finding challenges of flying through Addis Ababa and other places on transit will have an opportunity of flying to using our planes,” he said.
He added, “My call to them is that they should patronize Uganda airlines because this is their asset and money from taxes, which have been used to buy the aircraft in cash,” he explained.
“I call upon the Ugandan traders to patronize Uganda airlines so that we don’t give away money when we have our own, let us be inside-looking and be proud of what our country has achieved, which will show some level of patriotism,” he said.
He said with much support from home, the Uganda Airlines will be able to go beyond the four bombardiers and two airbuses to a bigger fleet.
The A330neo is powered by Rolls-Royce’s latest-generation Trent 7000 engines and features a new wing with increased span and new A350 XWB-inspired Sharklets. The cabin provides the comfort of the new Airspace amenities including state-of-the-art passenger in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity systems, amongst others.
The A330neo is powered by Rolls-Royce’s latest-generation Trent 7000 engines and features a new wing with increased span and new A350 XWB-inspired Sharklets.
The plane’s cabin provides the comfort of the new Airspace amenities including state-of-the-art passenger in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity systems, amongst others.
The Uganda Airlines started with four Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft in August 2019 and have been flying within the East African Community and beyond.