Uganda’s first two Bombardier Planes arrive -Uganda Safari News
Close to three decades since the Government of Uganda decided to halt the operations of the national carrier over its precarious financial position. A few can recall how great it was to enjoy the carrier but then the Uganda Airlines revamped and on 23rd April 2019, this Tuesday morning, a receiving ceremony marked a great milestone for the Uganda Airlines.
The ceremony this morning at Entebbe International Airport was held to receive two Bombardier planes from Canada with a team of dignitaries including President Museveni waiting on hand at the tarmac at the old airport. The two Bombardiers arrived at around 9:00am landing amidst ululation and singing, the works minister Monica Azuba Ntege and the First Lady were among those chorusing:
“This is the day that the Lord had made; we shall rejoice and be glad in it.”
Upon arrival at the airport, the two planes received a ceremonial water salute. The water salute is a touching airport tradition to honour a new airline service. Salutes typically involve two firefighting rigs spraying arcs of water over an arriving aircraft in a sign of respect, honor and gratitude.
Arriving Tuesday morning, the plane started its journey at Montréal-Mirabel International Airport in Canada and had stopovers at airports in Iceland, The Netherlands, and Aswan in Egypt before landing at Entebbe. On board each plane had four pilots, two Ugandans and the other from Bombardier. Each plane also had a Ugandan engineer.
In July last year, Canadian jet manufacturer Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced that it had signed a $190m firm order for four new CRJ900 regional jets with Uganda National Airlines Company. Of these two have arrived. This wasn’t the only order made, Uganda Airlines, the national carrier of Uganda, signed a memorandum of understanding for a total of 6 aircrafts. The aircrafts include two A330-800neos by Airbus and four (4) new CRJ900 regional jets by Canada’s Bombardier. These all to ease air transport for Uganda safari tourists and connect Uganda’s to other destinations at a fair price.
About Uganda’s first two Bombardier Planes
The first brand new CRJ900 Bombardier aircraft are fitted with the atmosphere cabin making it the first operator in Africa with this enhanced cabin experience, the manufacturer said.
The contemporary style and design give the interior a wider aisle, integrated connected cabin, large overhead bins, new class dividers and wheels-first overhead cabin. The aircraft’s lavatory design gives it more headroom and floor space with an easy clean surface. It has large windows and a more spacious entrance.
It’s a dual-class configuration with 76 seats, including 12 first class seats.
Where will Uganda’s first two Bombardier Planes fly to?
Uganda Airlines will make flights to 26 destinations according to a member of the Uganda Airlines task committee. The confirmed 19 regional and seven international routes are demand driven.
Regional routes will include Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Bujumbura, Kigali, Goma, Harare, Johannesburg, Dar es Salaam and Lagos among others. The International flights are to London, Amsterdam, Bombay, Dubai and Doha. These flights will not only connect business people but also those on holidays heading for Congo gorilla trekking safaris or Rwanda safaris dodging the long hours’ drive on dirt roads.
When will the Uganda Airlines Bombardier Planes start flights?
The aircraft will not immediately start commercial flights until they complete the Air Operator Certification (AOC certification) process.
The process has five phases and will take approximately 90 days to complete setting the timeline for start of commercial operations to be July 2019.
During this 90-day certification process, Bombardier will be showcasing the CRJ900 new cabin to other countries across Africa as a marketing strategy.
Currently Uganda has signed forty-seven (47) Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) with other countries which will need to be activated.
Other key activities to be completed within these 90 days include
- the acquisition and transport of aircraft spares
- the purchase, implementation and testing of airline systems
- airport services contracting at all destinations across the network
- supplier contract negotiation for operational services, fuel, catering, technical handling etc.
- branding and uniform design
- set up of commercial offices and distribution network including airline association memberships
- final online system design and roll out of booking systems and payment gateways. These activities were awaiting allocation of project finances accordingly which funds have been approved.
Only a small percentage of Uganda’s largely youthful population truly remember the livery of Uganda Airlines but then here it returns. For the safari industry and those planning vacations across Africa and Uganda’s popular national parks like Queen Elizabeth National park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, this is a great achievement. Its now going to be easier to tailor Rwanda wildlife safaris, Congo safaris, Uganda gorilla trekking safaris to many of the other African destinations.