By John Agaba
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has commissioned the Uganda Civil Aviation 20-Year Master Plan Study, which upon completion will guide the authority's activities in standardizing air transport during that period.
This is in line with Uganda's national development strategy - the vision 2040.
The study, hoped to be concluded in six months, will among other things look at a proposal to refurbish Entebbe International Airport, and Arua, Gulu, and Kasese Airports.
The study will also look to address the construction of a city airport, so it is feasible for inland passengers not to first fly to Entebbe when they are travelling to Jinja, putting back to shape the Soroti Flying School and the introduction of a national Airline.
The study, commissioned yesterday at the Kampala Imperial Royale Hotel, will cost $273000 (about sh679m).
CAA managing director, Rama Makuza, said year in year out the number of people demanding air transport has continued to grow, necessitating expansion of the sector.
Singling out Entebbe Airport, the MD reiterated "there is a demand for facility expansion and to provide the best of services to the foreigners who are mainly tourists."
He said that their reports from last year indicate that over 1.4 million passengers passed through the airport in 2012.
"This pressure necessitates a demand for expansion," said Makuza. "There is demand for more reliable power and the need for expansion of aircraft parking and more land."
He said part of the things the study will look at is the feasibility of contracting a new and bigger passenger terminal at the airport, a new and modern cargo centre, and a modern aircraft maintenance centre.
He said currently Entebbe handles 21 airlines, of which six are domestic and the rest international.
Mbabazi reiterated the importance of air transport in economic development, especially to a land locked country like Uganda.
He said air transport was one of the drives of our national economy.
"It is also the fastest means of transport, making it critical in the movement of people and services to and from the country," said Mbabazi.
Saying that Lonely Planet Magazine voted Uganda the most popular tourist destination in the world, Mbabazi reiterated the importance of developing air transport in Uganda to international standards to meet the demands of the many tourists arriving into the country by air.
He said that as a country whose economy was largely agro-based, "we would do well to constantly improve our aeronautical infrastructure in order to ensure timely deliveries of our fresh produce to the international consumer."