In a recent speech at the Uganda-Nigeria Trade and Business Forum in Kampala, Works Minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala called on Ugandans to show their support for the national carrier, Uganda Airlines, as it continues to expand its services.
Minister Katumba acknowledged that the airline, which is barely three years old, faced a challenging beginning, largely due to negative publicity. However, he emphasized that Uganda Airlines is now on a path to global expansion with a total of 13 destinations.
During the forum, Gen Katumba stated, “I urge you, Ugandans, to use our airline’s services to help it grow and expand its network.”
Uganda Airlines is preparing for its inaugural flight from Entebbe to Lagos, Nigeria, scheduled for October 19. The minister believes that this direct flight will create opportunities in the oil and gas sector for both countries.
He added, “The operation opens up opportunities for Ugandans in various sectors, including oil and gas, agriculture, education, and tourism, which will benefit from Nigeria’s sizable economy of more than 220 million people, coupled with its well-developed aviation and airline sector.”
Gen Katumba also highlighted the potential for Ugandan exports in the Nigerian market, including manufactured goods, fish, chili, cassava, wheat, fruits, and vegetables.
Jennifer Bamuturaki, the CEO of Uganda Airlines, emphasized that Africa currently lacks adequate air transport services and that the direct flights to Nigeria will improve connectivity to West Africa. She stated, “Africa is underserved in terms of air transport at only 22 percent. Regionally, connectivity between the West and the East is limited. Uganda Airlines aims to address this need by starting its service to Lagos, Nigeria.”
Ms. Bamuturaki also noted that the direct flight would significantly reduce travel time between Entebbe and Lagos, from over 10 hours to just four hours.
Elsie G Attafuah, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) resident representative for Uganda, pledged to sponsor 40 women on the maiden flight to Nigeria with tickets.
The Nigerian High Commissioner, Mr. Ismail Ayobami, expressed his commitment to strengthening trade ties between the two countries, given Nigeria’s status as the most populous country in Africa with over 220 million people and the continent’s largest economy.
Uganda Airlines, established in 2019, is Uganda’s flagship national passenger and cargo carrier. The direct route to Lagos, Nigeria, marks the airline’s 13th destination.