Uganda ventures in chartered flights arena
While Kenya is banking on Uganda Airline’s direct flights from Entebbe to Mombasa to boost trade and tourism, the move signals a surge in regional competition for East Africa’s aviation sector.
Coming after dipping traction from local airlines, this move, together with the surge of Tanzania Air’s presence, should nudge struggling Kenya Airways to tighten its grip in the region.
Uganda Airlines will fly to Mombasa three times a week on Monday, Friday and Sunday, a move authorities say is a boost to trade and tourism.
The one-hour 50-minute linkage trips will target tourists and Ugandan traders who depend on the Port of Mombasa to do business since most of the country’s imports pass through the port.
“This is a game changer to the two countries in terms of promoting trade. We are working with different stakeholders including the Kenya Tourism Board, hoteliers and travelling agents to ensure the airline rules the skies,” said Uganda Tourism minister Kamuntu Ephraim.He exuded confidence the airline would exceed customer confidence.
The Ugandan minister said there was need for a regional airline since the countries under the East African Region treaty complement each other in many ways. Uganda brings about 1.2 million tourists to Kenya.
Mombasa deputy governor William Kingi said Mombasa, as a tourist destination, continued to enjoy chartered flights therefore, boosting the tourism sector.
“We have about five scheduled flights and about 15 chartered flights to Mombasa. This is a major milestone,” said Kingi.
Kenya Coast Tourism Association regional chairman Victor Shitakha said airlines were taking advantage of the charter flight programme, therefore bringing business into the country.