Uganda Airlines has resumed plans to start services to the United Kingdom after gaining approval to operate routes via an intermediate airport.
The airline’s chief executive Jenifer Bamuturaki told The EastAfrican that UK authorities had indicated that the airline was cleared to fly to the UK under certain criteria. “In principle, we have two options – to wait until Entebbe International Airport has gone through a security audit by the UK CAA so that we can fly direct from there or go through a third country whose airport already has the necessary clearances,” Bamuturaki said during the interview.
A security audit to clear Entebbe International Airport is estimated to take up to two years, the interview claimed, while six countries, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Tunisia, and Turkey, have been identified as likely intermediary points for the airline.
Bamuturaki said that Uganda Airlines had explored which routes would be most optimal for the airline operationally and was preparing to accommodate the possibility of commencing services to the UK during summer 2023.
While the airline identified Kenya as a good intermediary point, it is currently favoring flights through either Algeria or Egypt. However, according to the interview, a stop at any one of the intermediary airports would be strictly “technical”, which bars the airline from picking up onward traffic from any of the airports. Passengers and crew would be required to disembark the aircraft at the intermediate point and only reboard the aircraft after completing passenger screening.
Uganda Airlines services to the United Kingdom
The current Uganda Airlines is a revival if an older version of the airline that operated from 1977 to 2001. The airline recommenced commercial operations in August 2019, with a flight to Nairobi, Kenya.
However, by March 2021, 19 months after resuming its commercial operations, the Ugandan flag carrier secured a morning landing slot at London Heathrow Airport. At the time, traffic on the Entebbe-Heathrow route was stimulated by demand from business travelers.
The airline went on to operate the route with its pair of Airbus A330neo aircraft, which it took delivery off separately in December 2020 and February 2021.
In January 2022, Uganda Airlines restarted its services to Dubai from its Entebbe hub after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lifted its travel ban on direct passenger services into Uganda.
The airline operates four weekly flights to the UAE with its A330-800neo fleet.
Read more: Uganda Airlines granted landing rights at Guangzhou Airport by CAAC
In June 2022, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) granted Uganda Airlines landing rights at Guangzhou Baiyun international Airport (CAN), which at the time would be the first direct service from Uganda to China post-COVID.
Uganda Airlines was approved to operate up to one weekly flight to any point in China except Beijing and Shanghai.