By Our Reporter
Uganda Airlines has revealed top priorities and targets for 2022, with the national carrier set to expand its network in Africa and outside the continent.
According to Jennifer Bamuturaki, the Ag. CEO at Uganda Airlines, the key focus areas for the national carrier in 2022 include “investing in customer retention systems, seeking strategic partnerships, growing our cargo operations, network expansion and championing the COVID-19 fight by encouraging vaccinations.”
On network expansion in 2022, Bamuturaki says Uganda Airlines plans “to include direct flights to cities in Europe, India and the Far East.”
“We are also looking at points in DRC (Goma, Kisangani), West Africa (Lagos) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia),” Bamuturaki says.
She adds that feasibility studies to various cities where the national carrier plans to fly are already underway.
“With COVID-19, patterns have changed. This is why we are doing feasibility studies even when we have IATA (International Air Transport Association) figures,” Bamuturaki says, adding: “We have already sent our teams to various routes we plan to fly. They are assessing the viability of these routes.”
She reveals that the airline is also undergoing evaluation processes by the UK CAA and EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) to operate in the United Kingdom and European Union.
Uganda Airlines is also set to roll out its self-handling project by the first quarter of 2022. This, according to Bamuturaki, will involve passenger, baggage and cargo handling, maintenance, security and general ground operations.
Ephraim Bagenda, the Director of Engineering and Maintenance at Uganda Airlines says the national carrier is currently spending US$250,000 per month on contracted maintenance.
“Once we get approval (from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority) to maintain our fleet, all that money will be saved,” he says.
Asked about the cost of setting up facilities for self-handling, Bagenda said the total investment is US$2.5m-inclusive of recruitment and training of staff.
“This investment is worthwhile in the long term,” he says.
Uganda Airlines has also commenced its IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) certification process with an anticipated completion date of October 2022.
“With this certification, the airline will be recognized, operating at an internationally accepted Operational Safety Standard,” Bamuturaki says.
To retain customers and improve passenger experience, Uganda Airlines plans to activate a Frequent Flier Program in the 3rd quarter of 2022.
“Cargo operations will be greatly supported and enhanced by acquiring facilities such as customs bonded warehouses, cold rooms and general warehouses for imports and exports to augment cargo operations as a revenue-generating arm of the Airline,” Bamuturaki says, adding that the national carrier will also continue to seek commercial alliances and partnerships with global airlines.