Uganda Airlines set to resume flights as international borders openUganda Airlines will operate a mix of A330neo’s for the long haul network and shorter range Bombardier CRJ’s for the regional feeder network
Flag carrier Uganda Airlines is ramping up for an October 1 resumption of services, following President Yoweri Museveni’s partial lifting of restrictions on international travel.
The President’s directive comes two weeks after the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority met with airline representatives to harmonise positions around a thin schedule that will guide operations between October 2020 and January 2021.
Mr. Roger Wamara, the Commercial Director at one-year old carrier Uganda Airlines, confirmed plans for resumption of services.
“We cannot just sit back and wait until things get right, we will be starting small at maybe 40pc of capacity and then see where the curve goes from there,” he told 256BN.
Wamara is banking on pent-up demand within the travel bubbles in countries such as Kenya and Tanzania which opened up their airspace earlier. He did not provide any guidance on how the routes will be prioritised.
Uganda Airlines which had been aloft for only 6 months before Uganda went into total lockdown, had carried just over 75,000 passengers. Before the lockdown, the airline which will be taking delivery of its first long-haul aircraft in December 2020, was on course to grow the number of destinations to 19 before its first birthday.
According to the interim schedule the UCAA shared with airlines earlier in the month, each operator will initially be allowed just one flight per day. Arrivals will also be spaced two hours apart to minimize congestion as passengers go through port health and immigration.
In a televised address Sunday, Museveni said the country was now open to inbound tourist and business traffic through Entebbe International Airport and the land borders to visitors. Returning citizens and residents would also be able to skip the mandatory 14- day quarantine period on arrival, provided they bear a negative result for a Covid-19 PCR test taken within the preceding 72 hours.
The caveat for tourists is that they would not be allowed to mix with the local population although they could choose to arrive by air through the international airport or one of the entry points at the land borders.
The President was however, mute on whether outbound Ugandans would be allowed to travel. Unlike other countries that have listed permissible destinations, Museveni did not indicate if Uganda was open to arrivals from all over the world, including countries that are still considered high risk.
Limited opening of learning was also announced starting with candidate classes and tertiary institutions on October 15.
Museveni said continued closure of schools, many of them privately run was would be expensive and catastrophic.
Congregation in places of worship was also partially allowed provided a maximum of 70 people attended service at a time. But this would be allowed during regular prayer sessions Friday and Sunday.
Open air sports activities will also be allowed provided there are no spectators and the players are tested for Covid-19, 72 hours prior to meetings.
However, indoor sports activities, including gyms, remain closed just as are pubs, Casinos, gaming centres and cinemas although hotels will continue to operate along SOPs agreed with the Ministry of Health.