Michael Wakabi/KAMPALA Justin Wastnage/LONDON

DAS Air Cargo, the London Gatwick-based cargo airline, has delayed plans to set up its Africa One passenger operation in Uganda, and is now eyeing the West African market as a priority.

The carrier had been expected to launch Africa One next month operating between East and West Africa (Flight International, 15-21 May), but this has been delayed until September. Services would also be operated to the UK.

DAS Air says it has placed deposits on several Boeing MD-82s for the regional network, and is acquiring a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 for the long haul flights to London and Lagos, Nairobi, Kampala, Dar-es-Salaam and Johannesburg. The airline has already recruited cabin, cockpit and engineering crew.

The postponement comes as a result of delays in receiving local approvals, says the airline. DAS Air chief executive Charles Heather says the airline has shifted emphasis from East to West Africa, with the focus now on creating a hub in Lagos, Nigeria, and it plans to become a pan-African airline in due course.

Although the Ugandan ministry of transport and communications granted the airline passenger licences last year, is it thought to have dragged its feet in completing the approval process because of the recent elections, says Daisy Roy, who is heading up the Africa One project in East Africa. The government is believed to be keen for a new airline to start, as national carrier Ugandan Airlines was officially wound up last month, leading to a capacity crisis on the Nairobi-Entebbe route.


Meanwhile, Kenya Airways has taken delivery of the first three Boeing 767-300ERs it has on order to upgrade its long-haul fleet but is yet to resolve long-term plans following Boeing's cancellation of the 767-400ERX for which it was launch customer.

The airline says the deliveries are part of a fleet rationalisation plan that will see the replacement of ageing Airbus A310-300s. The 767-300ERs will help the airline meet its growth requirements through to 2004 when the carrier had planned to introduce three larger 767-400ERXs.

Although the airline has reconfirmed its three -400ERX orders as the baseline shorter range -400ER model, Kenya is studying the alternatives. Though the airline declines to specify types under evaluation, it is known to be considering the Airbus A330-200.

Source: Flight International