Monday, November 12, 2012

● UGANDA: Ethiopian asked to help resurrect Uganda Airlines as Tanzania & DRC are considered for a Central African hub.

Ethiopian Airlines (ET) management has taken its search for a suitable regional hub in central and southern Africa to Tanzania, Congo (Kinshasa) and Uganda. Zambia, too, is to be visited, having recently held talks with Ethiopian officials in Addis Ababa over the possibility of establishing the carrier's "southern hub" in Lusaka.
The question now remains, where will Central Africa's hub be?

In an interview with Ethiopian paper, The Reporter, Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, said his management team was also holding preliminary talks with the Tanzanian government officials, whilst Congo too was being considered, with an as yet unnamed Congolese carrier also being involved in talks:
"Tanzania has a weak national airline that only serves domestic customers. However, it has a successful private airline called Precision Air. Ethiopian is also exploring DRC. "
“We have an initiative in DRC. We are holding talks with a private airline there. The company has an operating license,” Tewolde said.

Uganda Airlines 707 in 1980
Uganda Airlines 707 in 1980 (EMarmet)
Interestingly enough, the government of Uganda has also asked Ethiopian Airlines to assist it in re-establishing a new national flag carrier akin to defunct national carrier Uganda Airlines (QU), liquidated in 2001

As part of the country's "Uganda Vision 2040 National Development Plan" which calls for the creation of a "national carrier to increase connectivity to various destinations", the call to resurrect the national carrier also received parliamentary support in September when a report by MPs involved in the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry recommended to Parliament that "Government should revive Uganda Airlines as one of the deliberate efforts to enhance the level of marketing the country internationally."

In July, David Mpango Kakuba, the Deputy Managing Director of Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that having a national carrier would enable the country to become a hub and thus have ameans to advertise Uganda's tourism potential:
"You cannot expect carriers like Kenya Airways, Emirates to place documentaries about Uganda's tourism potential on their flights. Everybody will be marketing their own potential. So we shall whether Uganda starts humbly, but to get a national airline which will market the tourism," he said. He added, "We have impressed upon government to have a national airline. We have advised them that you cannot effectively market tourism unless you have a national airline. So we have put our case before cabinet and they are seriously thinking of establishing a national airline."