Low staffing levels affect airport operations at Entebbe

The aviation sector in Uganda is struggling with a critical shortage in the number of qualified personnel expected to run the smooth operations of the aviation industry, Ronnie Barongo, the director safety and security at Entebbe International Airport has revealed.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audits indicate that staffing in the civil aviation sector in Uganda stands at 47.7 percent, which is below the global average of 100 percent.

The Committee of the global aviation safety plan mandates regional aviation safety groups to support the implementation of its safety plans so as to address global aviation safety matters from a regional perspective.

These include among others availability of adequate technical personnel as provided for by the ICAO score for technical persons.

However, even with the institution of the East African aviation safety and security oversight agency, the aviation industry in Uganda hasn’t improved its staffing levels.

Pilots and other support staff are retiring without enough people to fill the positions left behind.

The aviation operators and staff are supposed to retire at 65 years of age.

Barongo says the Ugandan aviation regulator, Civil Aviation Authority(CAA) and Entebbe international airport is short of the required aeronautical engineers and pilots to handle duties and responsibilities in aviation safety and security.

He said that, as a mitigation measure, there is need for inquiries and amendments that would see the retirement age limit lifted for aviation staff from 65 to when an aviation operator would be able to serve before they officially retire especially after 70 years.

Barongo says this will move along with an automatic renewal of Aviation Operator’s licenses so as to help the operators work in any country within the East African region.

Currently, 15 companies with more than 800 staff are licensed to operate in Uganda.

The authority projects an increase in the number of licensees.

David Mpango Kakuba, CAA’s director general, says other interventions have been put in place to ensure that there is adequate staffing.

In such incidences, Kakuba says the authority and the airport can co-opt staff from other aviation companies for smooth operations.