Ugandans got a glimpse of the first of the two Uganda Airlines A330neo aircraft – the A330-800 – being rolled out of the yard after branding in national colors. This was posted on the AirbusNeo330 facebook page prompting euphoric response on social media.
A tweet on the official Uganda airlines page stated, “Soon General Wamala (Uganda’s Works and Transport Minister) will be leading a team to France to flag off the bird home.”
Before the lockdown and closure of Entebbe International Airport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline was flying to Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salam, and Mogadishu and had planned for Harare, Kigali, Zanzibar, and Kilimanjaro airports as part of its regional destinations.
Uganda Airlines plans to use the A330-800 to build its medium- and long-haul networks with the aircraft offering cutting-edge technology along with more efficient operations. This shall add to the existing fleet of four Bombardier CRJ 900 Atmosphere cabin models that were ordered prior to the launch of the airline in April 2019.
Cornwell Muleya, Acting CEO of Uganda Airlines, said they hope to receive the wide-body aircraft by December, a slight delay from the earlier plan of October 2020 – consequently pushing the start of international flights to next year. Muleya said, “We’re targeting that we receive the aircraft in the last quarter of the year, at least by December, so that early in the New Year, we can launch our operations.”
There has been uncertainty as to whether the orders would be confirmed as the COVID-9 pandemic had ground international travel to a screeching halt.
However, Maleya in an earlier press conference prior to the one-year anniversary said the airline shall continue with its plans to make its mark on the African continent and beyond.
“Our plans are ongoing and on course [with what] we committed at the beginning – that in addition to developing the regional networks of which we have developed nine, we still have a few more to get to the eighteen or twenty that we require for Africa. We said we are going to extend the network to intercontinental destinations; we want to go to London, we want to go to Dubai, we want to go to Guangzhou with the A330s. As a start, we also want to connect to West Africa and Southern Africa where that capacity is required.”
Fitted with the new Airspace by Airbus cabin, the A330neo will bring a range of benefits to Uganda Airlines and its customers, offering unrivaled efficiencies combined with the most modern cabin.
The A330neo is powered by Rolls-Royce’s latest-generation Trent 7000 engines and features a new wing with increased span and new A350 XWB-inspired Sharklets. The cabin provides the comfort of the new Airspace amenities including state-of-the-art passenger inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity systems, among others.