By HOMELAND MEDIA TEAM
An intelligence report reaching our desk as presented to President Museveni has indicated that the national carrier, Uganda Airlines loses $ 305,500 approximately shs1.2 billion per day over grounded aircraft.
Purchased purposely for long-distance or international flights, the national carrier has two Airbus A330-800neo aircraft but they are yet to start work.
Of the two, only one aircraft is operating on the Entebbe- Dubai route.
Despite securing landing rights in China at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport which is one of the world’s busiest airports and Heathrow Airport, another busy airport in the UK, the national carrier is yet to start flights to the two airports and this has seen the second airbus grounded at Entebbe Airport.
According to the whistle-blower’s report to the president, Uganda loses a lot of money every day the aircraft is grounded.
“The current utilization of the Airbus fleet amounts to 33 hours at present for each aircraft. The lack of utilization on the Airbus fleet leads to an accumulated loss amounting to $ 305,500 per day,” the report says in part.
The whistle-blower in his report to Museveni indicates that there is also underutilization of the four CRJ Bombardiers that the national carrier operates, leading to loss of revenue.
“The current utilization of the CRJ fleet stands at 72 Hours per Aircraft per month whereas up to 400 hours would be feasible. The underutilized capacity of the four CRJs combined also still amount to another USD 51,300 daily – resulting in accumulated wastage of $ 356,800.00 each day which equals USD 10,704,000 per month.”
Uganda Airlines currently flies to Mogadishu, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa, Bujumura, Kinshasa, Zanzibar, Juba and Johannesburg with flights twice a day and others five times a week in some of these destinations.
However, the whistle-blower says that the aircraft is not well utilized to maximize revenue for the airline as it should have been.
“Instead of developing a regional network utilizing the CRJs to their maximum and generating adequate revenue these aircraft are on ground because people are oblivious to the value of this investment and don’t know how to utilize these planes to the benefit of the airline and the country.”
According to the whistle-blower says that ground operations are also another sorrowful chapter for the national carrier and these lead to substantial delays including late departures and flight cancellations.
“Aircraft depart late because the plane was made available too late, or dispatch has not signed the flight plan, other times the fuel or the catering provider are supplying late or worse still, crews refuse to fly because they have not been given their allowances.”
When contacted for a comment on the matter, Uganda Airline spokesperson Shamira Rahim, confirmed that the utilization is indeed low.
“Ideally; the Airbus utilisation is between 14 – 18hrs, and CRJ 900 is 8 – 10hrs. The low utilisation is because we have not concluded the entire program of expansion of 18 routes. We have approvals and slots, but the regulatory regime is what we have embarked on. We have undertaken feasibility studies for all 8 routes, and the fleet will be fully utilised when we start operating these routes,” The Homeland Newspaper Learnt.
The development comes at a time when the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Jenifer Bamuturaki is on the spot from the Parliamentary Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) over the manner she was hired and other irregular operations of the Uganda Airlines.
However, despite the storm currently at the national carrier, many say Bamuturaki has played a key role in steering the Uganda Airlines back to the right direction.
It however remains to be seen whether the current storm will not dent the image that the national carrier has been trying to build since its inception a few years ago.