National carrier Uganda Airlines on Monday made its maiden direct flight from Entebbe to Mombasa.
The Bombardier CRJ900 jet touched down at the Mombasa International Airport with 74 passengers at 1.05pm (1005GMT).
The revived carrier is banking on the route, three flights a week, to help boost trade and tourism between Kenya and Uganda.
“The 1 hour 50-minutes flight trip would play a vital role to thousands of Uganda traders who depend on the Port of Mombasa to do business considering more than 85 per cent of Uganda imported cargo pass through the port. The route will add value to travellers who used to spend more than three to four hours to fly from Entebbe connecting in Nairobi to Mombasa,” said Harvey Kalama, the airline’s operations manager.
Andrew Tumusiime, Uganda’s head of administration said the airline is offering a promotional fare of Ksh20,000 ($200)—one-way ticket—to woo more tourists to the coastal city.
“Tourism is Uganda’s biggest foreign earner and we hope to capitalise on the flights to bring our visitors to Mombasa for beach holiday after enjoying our various sites in Uganda,” said Mr Tumusiime.
Mombasa is the carrier’s sixth destination after successful trips to Nairobi, Dar es Salam, Juba, Mogadishu, Bujumbura, Zanzibar.
The airline is also set to make an inaugural flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport on November 13.
Uganda Consul in Mombasa Katureebe Tayebwa said the airline will ease process of doing business considering Ugandans play a big role in port business in Kenya and in Mombasa tea trade.
"This move to commence a direct flight between the two towns comes due to mutual business relationship between Kenya and Uganda. Uganda airline is resuming its operation because of growing touristic trade and business between two countries and there is need to cater for Mombasa market demand of trade and regional tourism," said Mr Tayebwa.
Uganda Airline is joining a list of other national careers which have crowded East African skies, where both Rwanda and Tanzania have in recent years revived their national airlines in a bid to capture a slice of the booming market.