Civil aviation records indicate Ugandans are spending more than $240m per year on travel.
The Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAU) has stressed the need for government to revive the national airline saying it will boost tourism, trade and economic development.
Speaking on the sidelines of their fifth economic forum in Entebbe, ICPAU president Protazio Begumisa said the airline should be considered as infrastructure, just like roads ferries and rail ways.
“If you think that this is a nonprofitable sector in Africa at the moment, then you miss it. A 45-minute flight to Nairobi can cost you up to $600 yet they will charge you $400 to Dubai which is four times longer compared to Nairobi.
For all those years we have been travelling one wonders how much money we have lost. We are being fleeced because we have not invested in a national airline,” he said.
Civil aviation records indicate Ugandans are spending more than $240m per year on travel, which according to Protazio is not benefiting the country due to lack of a career.
He said reviving the airline will boost growth of the tourism sector which currently contributes approximately 9% to the national GDP, and ease the cost of doing business.
During last year’s 54th independence celebrations held in Luuka district, President Yoweri Museveni said the government allowed the airline to close because it was making losses and by that time Ugandans were not travelling as is the case now.
The airline also folded because of poor capitalisation. One of its two Boeings 707 had crushed in Rome while the other was declared junk, yet there were no funds to inject in.
The ICPAU chief executive, Derrick Nkajja said the country has a lot of potential in tourism but needs a career to ease travel for both locals and tourists.
“A national career is a symbol of national pride, and would entice more people to come here for tourism business and investment. We should not emphasize the fact that it can be either profit or loss making and simply look at it as a way of promoting destination Uganda,” he said.
Last year, government announced plans to have the airlines flap its wings again after more than 16 years of being rendered inoperable.
Works minister Monica Ntege said the airline’s revival would be done through leasing of planes from Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and France’s Airbus.
“A decision was taken and Uganda airlines will be flying again soon,” she said during the civil aviation authority’s 25 years celebrations at the Kampala Serena hotel.
Revival of the national career is most likely to affect regional careers such as Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines Ethiopian Airlines which have been operating at Entebbe for more than a decade without competition from a domestic career.