Ugandans should not allow a beautiful project, “fly the cranes to the pearl of Africa” to run back to the doldrums.
By Simon J. Mone
"Uganda Airlines won't fail again." These were the words of President Museveni. Everyone else should be seen to share the same attitude. Wish the ‘new-born baby' well. Ugandans should not allow a beautiful project, "fly the cranes to the pearl of Africa" to run back to the doldrums.
From the moment the two glittering, brand new; bolts-nuts-rivets, white-black-yellow-red CRJ-900 aircraft registered as; 5X-KOB and 5X-EQU touched down the surface of runway 17, there was fanfare. Mr. President and his better half got on board, to experience the feel of what Ugandans missed for 17 odd years.
Its unveiling is a big say in our air transport system. It has caused some mixed reactions, as to whether the new Uganda's flag carrier will last the extra miles. We continue to get negativity such as; who owns the Airline? Or have we learnt our lessons enough to be trusted with this millions of dollars investment? As it is always said, time will answer.
But we cannot start by wishing hell on our latest new thing, even when we know that in this industry; even the bravest and elite operators struggle to live in the sky. Last week, Icelandic budget airline, WOW came down crashing to earth. It is always the case with airlines.
WOW collapsed because it ran into financial trouble. According to sources, it became bankrupt and could not operate in and out of its Reykjavik hub beyond April, 2019 anymore.
We have to beat such misfortunes in order to keep Uganda Airlines in the clouds for the long term. One thing is for sure, continuous low-ticket operations bring down airlines. High operational costs are not manageable.
Our fingers have already been burnt; due to mismanagement. But from the determination of Mr. President, he must have a thing up his sleeves - intent to bring all risks associated with this business to manageable levels. And crack the whip on errant managers of the Airlines.
We want to hope that the unveiling event marked the beginning of so many years of sustained Uganda Airlines. We wish Uganda Airlines the best and urge government to embrace the following enablers to hold our biggest thing in the sky. To start with, tourism is one of Uganda's revenue expectations annually.
We can facilitate it more by adding domestic flights to the business. Domestic flights from Entebbe to; Kidepo, Kasese, Pakuba and all those routes that have aerodrome facilities will do a lot of good. Make sure the road transport system from Entebbe to the countryside is efficient. It will attract more arrivals. Uganda Airlines provides improved visibility of Uganda to the world.
Right now, you envy Kenya Airways. It has been the dominant airlines between Entebbe and Nairobi, thereby making Entebbe International to look like it is operated by Kenya Airways.
That is the power of visibility. Now our own should be visible. The other enabler is; through ground handling. If airport ground handling services become part of Uganda Airlines, there is an additional source of earning.
The third enabler is by flying cargo from Entebbe to other international destinations.
The fourth enabler is to make Uganda Airlines the operator of Entebbe International. In this way it will benefit from landing and parking charges levied on operators at Entebbe International.
The fifth is from tenants that occupy the airport terminal premises. Sixth, Uganda Airlines could benefit from hotel facilities in the vicinity of Entebbe International. Build hotels to provide accommodation to passengers.
The seventh enabler is; respect regulations. Don't breach rules. Regulations don't discriminate; they help operators to comply. The government must be the first to obey and all other operators will fall in line.
The start cannot be easy but Uganda Airlines need some well thought-out enablers. We wish Uganda Airlines thousands of miles in the sky.
The writer is a Civil Engineer, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org