The aviation industry is set for competition following the entry of Ugandan airline into the regional market.
The Uganda Airline made inaugural flight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi on Wednesday, and a day ahead of scheduled resumption date.
According to Uganda’s transport ministry, the airline has lined up four Bombardier Aircrafts and placed two orders for air buses expected next year for the commercial flight business.
“We are going to focus on regional routes before expanding to other destinations,” revealed Engineer Monica Azuba Ntege, minister for transport and public works.
“We saw it fit to launch the flight to Nairobi in the spirit of East African intergration, this flight will boost trade and boost Uganda’s tourism and agricultural activities,” she added.
Also at the launch was Kenya’s East African Community Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed who noted that the launch was a milestone in achieving some of the EAC goals.
While launching the flight at Entebbe International Airport, 40km south of the capital Kampala, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who represented President Yoweri Museveni, described the moment as joyous and historic given that the carrier had earlier collapsed in 2001.
"Each year, Ugandans were donating 450 million U.S. dollars to other countries through foreign travel. Besides, there was a lot of inconvenience to travelling Ugandans by not having direct flights and even being charged discriminatively air fares," Museveni said in his speech read by Rugunda.
The airline will first fly to seven destinations in the region and these include Nairobi (Kenya), Mogadishu (Somalia), Juba (South Sudan) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); and then to Mombasa (Kenya), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and Bujumbura (Burundi).
"Uganda plays a critical role in the geopolitical and economic stability of East Africa as a region and as a nation, we are strategically placed to serve our neighbors," Museveni said.
"There has never been a better time to commence commercial operations than now when passenger traffic is growing given the increasing demand for Uganda tourism, business opportunities and a peaceful environment created by the NRM Government," he said.
The NRM (National Resistance Movement) is the ruling political party in Uganda.
The country in April received two new CRJ900 Bombardier aircraft, with two more expected next month. The country also expects two airbuses in 2020.