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The National Airline: The name and hullabaloo about the A330neo

By Apollo Mubiru

Added 26th July 2018 08:44 AM

For the Ugandan national carrier, I propose UGANDAN for Ugandan Airways; POA Airlines an acronym for Pearl of Africa Airlines. POA is also Swahili for Cool/Fine/Good

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For the Ugandan national carrier, I propose UGANDAN for Ugandan Airways; POA Airlines an acronym for Pearl of Africa Airlines. POA is also Swahili for Cool/Fine/Good

The National Airline: The name and hullabaloo about the A330neo

Uganda and international media have been awash with the news of the revival of Uganda Airlines. The revival of the airline is a step in the positive direction as I indicated in the article published by the New Vision online titled “The National Airline: Challenges and Opportunities” and can be read here: https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1451310/national-airline-challenges-opportunities.

In regard to the naming of the national airline. It turns out that the names Uganda Airlines/Air Uganda were registered by individuals at the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). So if we are to get those names back, we might end up forking out billions to buy the Uganda Airlines name back. One of the challenges we have as a country is the weak enforcing of the laws that led to some schemers exploiting the gap and registered the names.

The overarching questions therefore are; do we even need the above names? How are airline names chosen? It is worth mentioning that the majority of flag carriers have country names in them, however, there also exists outliers which we can draw examples from Australian national carrier "QANTAS", is an acronym for its original name, "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services", and it is nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo". The name of the German national carrier "LUFTHANSA" is derived from Luft (the German word for "air"), and Hansa (a Latin term meaning "guild") KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is an acronym for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij...

For the Ugandan national carrier, I propose UGANDAN for Ugandan Airways; POA Airlines an acronym for Pearl of Africa Airlines. POA is also Swahili for Cool/Fine/Good etc.

That notwithstanding, I understand that the task force opted for Uganda National Airline, which is also a good step. The airline name and the circus around it have taught government the hard way that some names need to be reserved for the state so as to prevent the same scenarios from happening again. I hope that Kiira EV is now an internationally registered trademark.

This brings me to the second point which has been the most contentious one in regard to Uganda’s ordering the Airbus A330-800neo. On 18th July 2018, European aerospace company, Airbus broke to the world a story at the Farnborough Airshow in UK, that Ephraim Bagenda, CEO of Uganda Airlines and Eric Schulz, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer had signed a memorandum of understanding for two A330-800neo; NEO stands for New Engine Option, the new version of the best-selling A330 widebody airliner, featuring new wings new Rolls-Royce’s latest-generation Trent 7000 engines, new systems, and a new Airspace cabin interior. According to Airbus, the A330-800neo costs $ 296.4m (sh1.1trillion) meaning the taxpayer will fork out sh2.2 trillion for the two new birds.

Uganda Airlines plans to use the A330-800neos to build its international long-haul network with the aircraft offering cutting-edge technologies along with most efficient operations. Furthermore, the aircraft will feature a three-class cabin layout comprising 20 Business, 28 Premium Economy and 213 Economy seats.

 As Ugandans spirit were all high and happy to this great milestone, hell broke loose when the East African a day after ran a cover page story titled “Uganda Airlines to fly the unwanted Airbus 330 Neo” as if that wasn’t enough the sister paper Daily Monitor all owned by Kenyan Nation Media group ran the same story and surprisingly the high spirits that Ugandans had were reduced to a low ebb, social media was abuzz with the story of unwanted jet!

I have realized that the majority of Ugandans are not patriotic, I don’t know what has led to that! We are but a people who are quick to discredit our own but praise a struggling neighbor’s kid. We blind our eyes to major successes and engineering marvels in the country and still praise the same elsewhere! Some finger happy folks went on to post how the aircraft may not be safe and will never even step on it, sometimes I think maybe it is such stories that led to the President passing the OTT tax! This kind of mediocrity and laziness towards fact-finding is akin to an uneducated lot!

Whereas Uganda Airlines ordered two A330Neo jets, by the way as a person who has ever designed jets, I have got to say the A330 is a fuel efficient and advanced jet that has long range compared to similar birds in its category. Just recently Air Asia X ordered 100 jets worth a knee-wobbling $30b! The East African (TEA), as well as Kenyan, owned Daily Monitor wrote a nasty article on Uganda airlines, do you expect competitors to write well about you?

I shudder at Ugandans who supported the Kenyan media, can they now demand TEA and Daily Monitor to carry the story of how the A330neo got a hot deal of $30b from Air Asia X? Do they know that KQ has leased jets? Preference for an airline is subject to needs and the potential at the time. Right now the double-decker A380 jumbo jet is unpopular among airliners whereas Emirates is busy ordering for more! This well-orchestrated move by Kenyan media to sabotage the revival of Uganda Airlines and Air Tanzania through harmful media propaganda are workings of economic hitmen.

As an aviation professional, I know for a fact that Uganda Airlines will soar and some of us are proud because this is going to build engineering capacity of the country, boost tourism and diversify our economy. Then there are those who usually say that we cannot afford it. Well, there are many things we may not afford roads inclusively but we look at the state to put them in place. The economically myopic individual will be fast to post how the USA and some countries have no airlines.

If you look at the trillions of Uganda has given to foreign airlines in form of ticket sales, that is capital flight which is not good for the country! Those foreign companies get the shillings, look for the USD and wire the money out of the country further injuring our weak economy! Most high income and developing countries ensure that their currency circulates within and limit capital flight!

In this dot-com era, people forget easily but the digital footprint remains. How comes when Rwandair, Ethiopian, KQ and Air Tanzania ordered for the Boeing B787, their respective papers didn't write that: KQ or Rwandair or Ethiopian bought a plane that had been grounded by the FAA for close to two years for air unworthiness due to aircraft batteries that used to explode? Oh yes, many Ugandans are happy to step on a B787 but little do they know that the B787 initially was air unworthy and had issues that led to its grounding by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for over two years!

That is history, Boeing fixed the batteries that used to explode, by the way during that grounding period, the Kenyans had already ordered for it and it was delivered and now they are doing economic sabotage of the Uganda Airlines orders! When Uganda Airlines orders a high tech jet from a solid company, they are like the aircraft is fake! Little do they know Airbus manufactured the mighty supersonic Concorde!

Let me conclude this article with six things Ugandans may not know about the A330neo the flagship bird of the soon to be revived Uganda Airlines! The A330neo is one of the best aerodynamically designed fuel-efficient jets that will treat its passengers to high tech! The wings have been redesigned, the winglets have been enhanced so as to reduce drag thereby increasing fuel efficiency.

The following six points are indeed a game changer: 1. The interior will have standard 18" wide seats; 2. Wider overhead luggage bins; 3. Toilets with anti-microbial surfaces with music to enhance the mood while doing toilet business... 4. Specialized interior cabin lighting! 5. The onboard flight entertainment will allow passengers to watch HD and 3D films! 6. Unobstructed leg space.

My respect goes to the team reviving the national bird, they are on the right track.

Dr. Samson Rwahwire is the Acting Director, Directorate of Graduate Studies, Research and Innovations of Busitema University as well as Senior Lecturer of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering (Technical University of Liberec); Master of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (Czech Technical University, Prague)

 

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