Uganda Airlines launches flights to East Africa’s tourist hubs

This week, Uganda Airlines added two routes to its growing list of regional destinations, three months after the revival of the national carrier’s commercial flights.

The airline on Monday, November 13, added Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa to its network with three weekly flights.

The direct flights to Mombasa were added because Mombasa is an important destination for Ugandan traders because nearly three-quarters of Uganda’s imports come in through Mombasa port thus requiring Ugandan traders to travel there to clear their consignments.

Mombasa is also a popular holiday destination for many Ugandans, but also offers opportunity for Uganda to attract some of the foreign tourists that go to Mombasa, to visit its hinterland without spending longer periods in transit.

A direct flight between Mombasa and Entebbe cuts down to one and a half hours the time a traveller spends on the journey. Previously, it would take at least three hours in transit at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Nairobi.

RwandAir, Kenya Airways and Jambojet operate the route but with a stopover at JKIA which may give Uganda Airlines an edge.

The next strategic destination is Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) in northern Tanzania, home to Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro and other tourist attractions such as the Ngorongoro crater, Serengeti National Park and Mountain Meru.

“10% of the global GDP is from tourism; the sector contributed $1.6 trillion last year to world economies, and it is one of the transformative forces driving Uganda’s economy into the much desired middle income status,” Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said.

Besides tourism, Kamuntu said, the Kilimanjaro route is a great step in the efforts for regional integration given that the airport also serves Arusha city which hosts the headquarters of the East African Community (EAC) and the African Court of Justice .

Tanzania’s Transport and Works minister, Atashasta Nditiye who was at hand to receive the Ugandan delegation called for partnerships between Uganda Airlines and Air Tanzania.

“Instead of competition, Uganda Airlines and Air Tanzania can complement each other. With its increasing network of regional destinations, Uganda Airlines can fly passengers to Air Tanzania’s hub at Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam, so that Air Tanzania flies them to our long haul destinations like Mumbai in India and Guangzhou in China,” Nditiye said.

Kilimanjaro is the seventh on Uganda Airlines growing route network but 10 less than Air Tanzania’s routes.

Air Tanzania was revived in September 2016 with two Bombardier Q400 for its regional routes before adding two A220-300 from Airbus and two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners for its long haul routes.

He also called for partnership between Uganda Civil Aviation Authority and their Tanzanian counterparts to empower Soroti flying school to build capacity to train more pilots from the East African Community