Uganda Airlines is dusting off plans for possible commencement of services to London and Dubai in May, after securing landing slots at the two destinations.
The airline, which will operate a direct service to Heathrow, has been allocated five flights a week to London and six to Dubai, officials said.
However, Roger Wamara, the director for marketing at the airline, says the number of flights will be determined during an ongoing review of the business environment.
“We applied for those slots before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the market. We now have to look at the numbers again before deciding how we are going to operate,” he said.
The slots are specific to the 2021 summer schedule that starts on March 28, but Mr Wamara says the start dates are subject to when the UK lifts restrictions on non-essential travel, and the pace of certification of the airline’s A330-800 fleet by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority. The process involves five stages and Uganda Airlines is at the third stage.
According to Vianney Lugya, the manager for public relations at the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, the carrier needs to update its Air Operators Certificate to include the new aircraft because it was initially licensed when it only operated Mitsubishi CRJ’s.
“The aircraft are not yet certified by the regulator but we are hoping to have completed that process by the end of April. If the UK relaxes travel restrictions, we should be ready to launch London sometime in May,” Mr Wamara said.
Uganda Airlines’ entry on the route will offer the only non-stop connection to the UK from the country, a market that is indirectly served by at least nine of the international airlines that call at Entebbe.
On average, 230 passengers travelled daily between Entebbe and London in 2019, according to the Airline Network News and Analysis, anna.aero.
Uganda Airlines will be offering night departures on the outbound leg, while the return flights will depart Heathrow mid-morning. The carrier will soon launch services to Lusaka and Johannesburg, bringing the regional network to 11 destinations.
The long haul fleet is also expected to support services to Guangzhou in China and Mumbai in India.