There is a new kid or should be we say former kid on the block - as Uganda Airlines has resumed operations after 18 years.
The inaugural flight to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport took off from Entebbe International Airport on August 27 - ahead of the airline’s first scheduled commercial flight on August 28.
Tourism Update reports the first scheduled flight will depart Entebbe at 06h00 and land at Nairobi at 07h15. A second flight, to Mogadishu, Somalia, will depart Entebbe at 17h37 and arrive at Aden Adde International Airport at 20h00.
The airline will initially fly to seven regional destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan, and Burundi.
CNN Travel reports South Africa is also on the cards, quoting Jennifer Bamuturaki, the airline's director of marketing and public affairs who states services to SA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Rwanda are "expected to be added from September".
Although the country is pinning its hopes on an emerging oil industry and tourism sector, it will face stiff competition from other airlines operating in the region. Uganda's appeal as a Afri-Travel destination has only but grown over the past couple of years, as travellers are drawn to its beautiful national parks, beaches and rare mountain gorilla experiences.
READ: Gorilla trekking: A dream come true
"We undertake to be a world-class airline that will exceed customer expectations through high-quality service," Ugandan Airlines CEO Ephraim Bagenda says following the launch flight at Entebbe International Airport - the country's sole international airport.
However some passengers were not impressed with the hand-written boarding passes, sharing this on social media saying, " If u have used a mathematical set before preferably picfare (sic), our tickets look like the paper on which the instruments sit."
Others were loving the on-board meals and branding.
And then of course there was this guy, Ugandan kickboxing sportsman Moses Golola, just casually getting on board the flight.
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The airline is hoping to take a slice of the East African market, in which Ethiopian Airlines is the dominant operator. While Africa's air travel is expected to surge by as much as 6% over the next year or so - it remains an industry that grapples with profitability.
South African Airways being a sore case in point. The recent Iberia cancellation of one of its Joburg route to Madrid further underlining it.
Uganda Airlines was founded by the country's former dictator Idi Amin in 1976 and then later liquidated in 2001 during a "push to privatise state firms". AlJazeera reports the airline is entirely state owned but is aiming to be self-financing within two years.
Africa’s airlines are running at 71% load factor, an entire 10% below the global average. Another jarring number to come to terms with is that route connectivity is less than 33.7% served on the continent - meaning Uganda Air, like other pan-African carriers, has its work cut out for it.
(Compiled by Selene Brophy)
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