Uganda Airlines has received landing rights at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport located in southern China, the national carrier announced on Saturday.
“Ni Hao #Guangzhou! A toast to yet another great milestone! Uganda Airlines has been granted landing rights to China! Cheers to a new world of greater connectivity,” the airline tweeted.
Speaking to Monitor on Sunday evening, the public relations manager of Uganda Airlines Shakira Rahim said this is the first-ever direct flight from Uganda to China in the post-Covid-19 era.
“Currently, there is no direct flight from Entebbe to China, which brings an amazing opportunity to tap into this gap. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were more than 25,000 passengers from China to Uganda, according to 2019 travel data,” she said.
Ms Rahim added that direct flights will benefit the business community given the national carrier will handle both passengers and cargo.
“The China route will also boost our cargo operations that started in September 2021. The business case for China is progressive, there have been a lot of trade and business transactions between the two countries. The airline targets local business people/traders, government officials, students, tourists and investors,” Ms Rahim said in a telephone interview.
Resumption of flights
She also revealed that in a letter to Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) accepted the resumption of scheduled passenger flights.
However, she said the national carrier is limited to one flight per week to any point in China except for Beijing and Shanghai, for reasons that were not revealed.
The spokesperson of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Vianne Lugya, also confirmed the development, saying it will boost Uganda’s trade with China.
“Yes, the rights were granted and it is good news for the industry because China is among the top three destinations for people departing Uganda,” he explained.
The spokesperson of Kampala Capital City Traders Association (KACITA), Mr Isa Sekito, called upon concerned authorities to resume granting visas to Ugandans seeking to travel to China.
“It’s one thing to allow landing but it’s another thing to grant people visas to be able to travel. Visas to China are still locked, we have been trading online. So after this, the visa issue should also be sorted and we should not only allow Chinese to come here but also allow Ugandans, especially credible businessmen, to go to China,” he said by telephone.
He added: “If we are able to go directly to these factories and bargain while looking at the goods, it's advantageous because while trading online, we have had incidences of receiving what you didn’t order for.”
Mr Sekito also said Ugandan traders import about 90 percent of goods from China, surpassing the exports by about three times.
Uganda Airlines also recently acquired rights to start flying to Heathrow Airport in London, UK.