Government asks Parliament for Shs 38 bn to repair grounded plane

Hardly a month after Parliament approved Shs 280 billion for the revival of Uganda Airlines, the government is back to Parliament with yet another request of $10 million (about Shs 38 billion) for major repairs on an aircraft that has been grounded for five years.

The plane, a Hercules C-130, belongs to Uganda Air Cargo Corporation (UACC), an entity supervised by the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs. It has been grounded since 2014 when the Civil Avaiation Authority (CAA) revoked its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) alongside Air Uganda which has since gone out of business.

This left UACC with one cargo plane in its four aircraft fleet which meant left the corporation with the option of outsourcing in order to remain in business, the board chairperson, Capt John Emily Otekat told MPs on the committee on Defence and Internal Affairs.

“Eighteen months of shutdown led to loss of revenue and customer confidence making resumption of operations difficult. The shutdown led to a loss in financial year 2014/15, being the only year the corporation reports a loss since resumption of operations in 2007,” Otekat said.

While the CAA four years later recertified it, the plane hasn’t flown again which has seen UACC to lose business opportunities since its clients like the UN have had to hire foreign operators to transport AMISOM troops and other supplies to Mogadishu, Somalia plus other destinations like the DRC and South Sudan.

“Between 2015 and 2018, the UN reimbursed over $12 million for movement of troops deployed in AMISOM. Due to lack of a backup aircraft that affects reliability, 80% of this went to foreign aircraft owners,” Otekat said.

He said, once repaired, the plane will improve UACC’s capacity  and reliability and enable government to save at least 40% of the money paid for the transportation of UN supplies.