Tuesday, May 8, 2012

● UGANDA: Uganda to resurrect Uganda Airlines or East African Airways?

Given the strong growth seen by private airline Air Uganda in recent months, and with tourism fast becoming a major cog in the Ugandan economic wheel, would now be the most economically opportune time for Kampala to resurrect defunct national carrier Uganda Airlines?

Or with the advent of The East African Community, would the newly founded economic bloc be better off with a newly reconstituted regional carrier, somewhere along the lines of the disbanded East African Airways?

Both are arguments seen in recent weeks in Uganda's press, though they have had mixed reactions, given that EAA ran into serious financial difficulties at the end of its life span in 1977.
"This follows reports that the viability of maintaining a national carrier is now feasible because traffic at Entebbe Airport has more than quadrupled in the past three years from 1,200 passengers per year to over 10,000.
According to the Transport and Works Minister Engineer Abraham Byandala, government was misled to think that running a national carrier was not feasible because it was just sucking money out of the economy with minimal returns yet air transport plays a supportive role in the transformation of the economy."

Out of all the independent carriers that arose from the dissolution of EAA in the 70s, Kenya Airways is the only airline to have made a name for itself, though Rwandair is making fast headway. On the other hand, with Air Tanzania and Air Burundi in the doldrums, should Uganda be so quick to jump onto the national carrier bandwagon?
"Instead of going their separate ways, The East African Airways could be revived. With regional cohesion, a Common Market, Political Federation in the offing, a larger and growing middleclass population, discovery of oil and gas, the stage has been set for the merger or formation of a regional airline.
This not only helps them in terms of economies of scale, as seen by the recent phenomenon of airline groupings but also reap the benefits of having many routes all under one operator."
Read More Here [AllAfrica]

Granted, much has changed since the 1970s - both economically and politically - and with the recent discovery of oil and natural gas in the region, perhaps this time round, a more resilient form of East African Airways could work.