Uganda Airlines not a threat to smaller airlines
Responding to concerns raised by Kampala Executive Aviation and Eagle Air during a CAA licence hearing this week, Bagenda said while Uganda Airlines would recruit whatever local talent was available because it was obliged to, he did not believe the carrier, which will expand gradually, is going to have that much impact on the availability of skilled aviation professionals.
“We would be exposed to proceedings before the Inspector General of Government, if we denied Ugandans jobs that they are qualified for. Even then, I don’t believe we are going to have that much impact on the existing skills base because our growth will be gradual and as an airline, we are also going to have our own in-house training programme,” he told the CAA Licensing Committee.
Philip Gill, the chief executive of Kampala Executive Aviation which operates a fleet of 13 aircraft had earlier expressed the concern that Uganda Airlines would pick the best on the market, throwing the smaller operators years back since they would have to recruit and qualify new pilots and technicians afresh on the types they operate. This would be expensive and threaten their continued viability, he argued.
This was however disputed by Captain Kakooza Alex the Director for Corporate Quality and Uganda Airlines who also doubles as the Secretary General of Uganda Airline Pilots Association who said Uganda had a surplus of pilots, many of whom remain grounded.
“Soroti Flying School has been training aviation personnel and continues to do so. It is misleading to suggest that there is a shortage of flying skills in this market,”he said.
Kakooza later told 256BN, that there was a surplus of pilots coming out of Soroti Flying School and others that had graduated from flying schools in South Africa and elsewhere. Besides the dozens that remain unemployed, there are atleast another 100 at different stages of the pipeline from Soroti Flying School, he says.
Uganda Airlines plans to initially operate a fleet of four Canadair Regional Jets 900 series starting next April. This will later be complemented by a pair of A330-800 neos that will join the fleet in the last quarter of 2020.
Each of the CRJ’s will need four sets of crew to maximise frequency. That means a requirement for at least 48 pilots to operate the entire fleet of six CRJ’s and tow A330’s. But they will all not be recruited at the same time since the ramp up will be gradual.
Bagenda further allayed fears, explaining that because they had bought brand new aircraft, the complementary manufacturers support package includes training for the crew and maintenance personnel.
Uganda Airlines also plans to set up a maintenance centre for Bombardier and Airbus aircraft at Entebbe. The maintenance and repair organisation (MRO), will be set up as an independent operation in a joint venture with a reputable global provider.