Uganda Airlines to launch Nigeria flights next month

Ugandans intending to export their goods to Nigeria will receive a boost next month when Uganda Airlines’ maiden flights to Abuja and Lagos take off. With a population of 200 million people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $506.6b, Nigeria continues to have the largest economy in Sub- Saharan Africa, followed by South Africa ($399b) and Ethiopia ($156.1b).

Uganda and Nigeria have had a bilateral air agreement, which paved way for landing rights for airlines from the two countries, but it has been long in coming. Ishmael Altise, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda, has revealed that flights of Uganda’s national airline have been okayed and everything is set for their commencement next month. Altise noted that in February, there was a delegation of 15 officials from the aviation fraternity led by the former minister of Aviation in Nigeria, who spent a whole week in negotiations with their Ugandan counterparts.

“This led to the penning of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries. It was agreed that Uganda Airlines be given a licence for direct flights to Lagos and Abuja. Last week, a smaller delegation flew in from Nigeria and inspected the facilities at Entebbe airport, and gave them a bill of good health,” he expounded. Altise said Nigeria doesn’t currently have a national airline, but when it is resuscitated in the next two years, it will benefit from the same agreement, and will fly freely into Uganda.

“One of the reasons why trade between the two sister countries has not improved is lack of direct flights. This is set to change and trade volume will go up,” he said. Jennifer Bamuturaki, Uganda Airline’s chief executive officer, said the new flights to Nigeria is one of their efforts to expand  global reach to many other destinations and grow revenue.

Uganda Airlines Partners With Kenya Airways

Uganda Airlines has entered into a partnership with Kenya Airways (KQ) to support each other to make their operations more viable. Talking to New Vision about the partnership, Bamuturaki said: “We are indeed starting at the first level of partnership which is interlining. We have activated the process in the system and KQ is to revert in about 30 days once a slot is open for further activations to commence. This means, KQ will revert with timelines and exchange of special prorates, routes available for the interline and negotiations and Uganda Airlines will also offer rates for its routes.”

She said the second level of engagement will be centred around agreeing on which rates to use in case both parties have disruptions on routes where they both have flights. “Once Uganda Airlines has concluded its IOSA certification, then code share discussions will commence. Code sharing is a partnership between two airlines that allows an airline to place its two-letter identification code on the flight schedules of another airline. This means that flights can be marketed by one airline and operated by another. Further discussions on other partnerships available to both carriers will continue concurrently,” Bamuturaki elaborated.

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