Uganda Airlines made its inaugural commercial flight for the first time in almost two decades to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Nairobi (JKIA) on Tuesday 27th August, 2019 arriving to a water salute by Kenya Airports Authority.
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The launch was preceded by an official ceremony officiated by The Rt. Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who addressed the media and officials from government and agencies, including Uganda Tourism Board CEO Lily Ajarova and kick boxing comical celebrity Moses Golola, before he flagged them off just after 10:00 am East African Time.
The Prime Minister said the airline will make it easy for tourists to connect to various destinations in and out of Uganda. He announced that two more similar aircraft will arrive within a months time.
The first commercial passengers who traveled the following day on 28th August to JKIA on a flight captained by Chief Pilot Mike Etiang, who personally welcomed each of the eight passengers aboard.
Congratulatory messages came from several dignitaries, including the country’s President Yoweri Museveni, who said: “I congratulate Uganda Airlines on their inaugural flight. We have been spending over $450m annually in foreign exchange, on travel by air. This Airline will change this and facilitate tourism as well. I urge Ugandans and our friends all over the world to fly with Uganda Airlines.”
His Excellency Attilio Pacifici head of EU Delegation to Uganda tweeted: “I warmly & wholeheartedly congratulate Uganda for the restart of Uganda Airlines operations. My staff & I will “fly Uganda” next time we move within the region. Look forward to the restart of long range flights to be operated by brand new, EU built, A330-800 airliners,” referring to Airbus orders expected to be added to the Uganda Airline fleet in late 2020.
Cabinet Minister for Works & Transport Monica Azuba announced that initially, the Airline will fly to Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Bujumbura, Juba, Kilimanjaro and Mogadishu. Thereafter, it will expand its network to other destinations.
The Entebbe-Nairobi route has been considered one of the most expensive routes in the world, monopolized by Kenya Airways, which is already feeling the pinch since Rwandair also joined the route a couple of years ago.