Uganda’s air transport industry is jointly promoting a bid that would see the rebirth of a viable national carrier, writes Michael Wakabi in Kampala.

Flight International understands from local airline sources that exploratory talks have taken place between three Ugandan airlines on the possibility of teaming up to launch a single long-haul airline that would form the nucleus of a hub at Entebbe International airport.

Although all three carriers involved say that it is too early to discuss definitive plans, all confirm that they have broached the idea and at least one meeting has already taken place.

Sources say that East African Airlines (EAA), general aviation operator Eagle Air and cargo operator DAS Air are informally discussing a model under which they would all participate in one long-haul carrier, into which the Ugandan government would be invited as a minority shareholder.

One of the major international airlines, possibly British Airways, Virgin Atlantic or Emirates, would then be brought on board as a strategic partner to provide the fleet and connections to a global network.

As a precondition the promoters would want the new carrier accorded what they describe as “fair protection befitting a national airline”.

Confirming the talks took place in late June, EAA managing director Benedict Mutyaba says that, ideally, the new carrier would equip with two 40-seat turboprops, three 100-seaters, and two widebodies such as the Airbus A330 or Boeing 767.

Mutyaba says Entebbe would offer a good alternative to Nairobi. If the venture takes off, it would be the third attempt in four years to start a national airline in Uganda.

Source: Flight International