Taddeo Bwambale & Jane Wasagali
New RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines operations at Entebbe will help fill the gap created by the absence of Air Uganda which is under suspension, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.
Government granted the two airlines fifth freedom rights to fly the Entebbe-Nairobi and Entebbe-Juba routes.
Fifth freedom is the right to carry passengers from one's own country to a second country and from that country to a third country.
RwandAir on Monday started new operations between Entebbe and Juba in South Sudan.
Ethiopian Airlines is expected to start new operations between Entebbe-Nairobi routes soon, the CAA spokesperson, Ignie Igundura said.
On June 17, CAA revoked the air operators’ certificates for three carriers including Air Uganda, Uganda Air Cargo and Trans-Afrik (U) Ltd, citing their failure to meet standards for operations.
Their suspension of business followed an audit of the policies and procedures of CAA by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) between 11th and June 17th.
Some carriers were forced to hike ticket prices after the suspension of Air Uganda which was the main airline plying the routes.
Igundura said the suspended airlines were undergoing a recertification process which will determine whether they will be allowed to resume operations.
The recertification which is supposed to be conducted within 90 days involves examining equipment, human resource capacity and documentation, Igundura explained.
The recertification process is being conducted by a team of seven experts from CAA, ICAO and the East African Community’s Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency.
The audit by ICAO, the global aviation oversight agency, discovered flaws in policy and operational procedures of the three suspended airlines, Igundura said.
Some of the flaws included falsification of one airline’s operations manual while operations of some carriers were unclear, Igundura stated.
Igundura stressed that it was not government’s intention to halt operations of the three airlines and described their grounding as ‘unfortunate.’
The number of passengers using Entebbe Airport grew from 1.5 million in 2013 from about 1.2 million in 2012.