President Yoweri Museveni has directed the Ministry of Works and Transport to expedite the establishment of a national airline, an undertaking that will help government save US$420 million in annual air travel costs.
Delivering his inaugural address to the new cabinet today, Mr Museveni noted that Ugandan travellers are suffering because of high air travel costs. He gave an example of the Entebbe-Nairobi route which costs between US$1100-1200, before directing that the national airline project be completed in the five years.
“Uganda will encourage the setting up of a National Airline. Ugandan travellers are suffering because of, apparently, not having a National Airline. A ticket to Nairobi costs between US$ 1100-1200 (business class) and US$ 500-700 (economy class) depending on the time of booking while a ticket to London costs between US$ 2700-3000 (business class) and US$1000-1300 (economy class). This is a big shame. I did not care much about a National Airline. I thought that our brothers in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, etc. having Airlines would serve all of us. That, however, is apparently not the case. Hence, the Ministry of Works and Transport is directed to conclude discussions with the investors that can help us to start a National Airline. A National Airline would help us to save US$420 million per year Ugandans spend on travel,” Mr Museveni said.
He also noted that the national airline will create jobs and career opportunities for Ugandans.
“Our children who train as pilots at Soroti Flying School. These children apparently suffer when they try to get jobs. Apart from joining the Uganda Airforce, opportunities for them are very limited. The Airlines of our brothers and sisters that benefit from Ugandan market should have remembered to treat our children as their own because our purchasing power is supporting those airlines,” the President added.
Previously, Uganda had a national carrier, the Uganda Airlines, but this was privatized in the 1990s. Since then air travellers use other carriers, mostly the Kenya Airways, whose planes operate several daily flights between Nairobi and Entebbe.