Uganda President: Lack of national airline “a big shame”


President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, in his first address to the recently sworn-in Cabinet on Thursday, called the lack of a national airline “a big shame,” criticizing the high fares between Entebbe and the regional African capitals.

Uganda Airlines could take to the skies again following a change in the wind from the Uganda Government to revive the defunct national carrier. Uganda Airlines last flew in 2001.

After the departure of Uganda Airlines, several private airlines took to the skies. But this was short-lived, with the last flyer being Air Uganda, whose departure saw the 45-minute flight from Entebbe to Nairobi rise to $1,000.

President Museveni has now directed the Ministry of Works and Transport to conclude discussions with investors to help Uganda start a national airline as a matter of urgency.

Excerpt from President Museveni’s speech to the new Cabinet:

“In these five years, Uganda will encourage the setting up of a National Airline. Ugandan travelers are suffering because of, apparently, not having a National Airline. A ticket to Nairobi costs between US$ 1,100-1,200 (business class) and US$ 500-700 (economy class) depending on the time of booking, while a ticket to London costs between US$ 2,700-3,000 (business class) and US$1,000-1,300 (economy class). This is a big shame. I did not care much about a National Airline. I thought that our brothers in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, etc., having airlines would serve all of us. That, however, is apparently not the case. Hence, the Ministry of Works and Transport is directed to conclude discussions with the investors that can help us to start a National Airline. A National Airline would help us to save US$420 million per year Ugandans spend on travel. The National Airline will also create jobs and career opportunities for our children who train as pilots at Soroti Flying School. These children apparently suffer when they try to get jobs. Apart from joining the Uganda Air Force, opportunities for them are very limited. The airlines of our brothers and sisters that benefit from [the] Ugandan market should have remembered to treat our children as their own, because our purchasing power is supporting those airlines.”

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