Uganda Airlines has introduced a new international route that connects Nigeria to Uganda. This new route is set to benefit the approximately 10,000 Nigerians living and working in Uganda by offering them the convenience of traveling back to Nigeria for the weekend and returning to Uganda for work on Mondays. The service will operate three times a week, providing a seamless travel experience for this community.
Increasing Efficiency and Potential
According to the Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Jennifer Bamuturaki, the move aims to enhance efficiency and expedite both the transit of commodities and the mobility of individuals between the two nations. The travel time between Entebbe and Lagos will now be reduced to just four hours, compared to the previous nine hours. Bamuturaki added that the first flight will depart from Entebbe at 4 p.m., opening Uganda to an economy of about $504 billion.
Implications for Trade and Tourism
Uganda Airlines commenced commercial flights in August 2019 after nearly 20 years of inactivity. Since then, the airline has successfully secured landing rights in 12 destinations. Now, with the launch of the direct route to Nigeria, one of the largest economies in Africa with an estimated population of 220 million, new doors of trade opportunities open up. This will not only facilitate the movement of goods and services but also promote tourism attractions.
Looking Forward: Expanding Reach
While the introduction of the new route is a significant milestone, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Adedayo Olawuyi, stated that Uganda Airlines intends to fly this route three times a week using a 250-seater aircraft. In addition, cargo services are expected to increase, with cargo costing $2 per kg, a substantial decrease from the previous $18. This move will indeed contribute significantly to the economic growth of both countries, fostering stronger bilateral relations.
Reception and Future Plans
The launch of the direct flights has been well received by officials from both Uganda and Nigeria. The Uganda Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala, stated that the direct flights would strengthen the bilateral relations between Uganda and Nigeria and create opportunities for cooperation in various sectors. As Uganda Airlines looks forward, it has plans for three new routes scheduled for launch starting October 2023, signaling a commitment to connecting Uganda with the rest of the world.
Additionally, Ugandans are encouraged to see this new route as an opportunity to connect with one of Africa’s largest and most prosperous nations. Uganda offers a range of sought-after products, including coffee, plantains, red pepper, beef, poultry, cereals, and dairy products. Furthermore, through value addition initiatives, Uganda produces high-quality manufactured goods that could find eager consumers in West Africa, as highlighted by Minister of Transport and Works, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala during the launch event at Pretoria Hotel on October 4, 2023.
The CEO of Uganda Airlines, Jennifer Bamuturaki, expressed her excitement at the launch event, emphasizing the potential success of the Lagos route, which follows closely after the introduction of the Mumbai, India route. This new route significantly reduces travel time, turning what used to be a ten to twelve-hour journey from Uganda to Nigeria into a four-hour flight. This development allows passengers to plan their time with confidence, eliminating concerns about layovers in distant continents before reaching Lagos.