After a two decade long absence, Uganda Airlines took to the Africa skies to reclaimed its position as the nations carrier.
The East African carrier resumed commercial services on Tuesday with a flight from Entebbe to Nairobi, Kenya. The airline hoped that its maiden flight will usher in a profitable new era for the formerly debt-ridden brand.
Its inaugural flight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the plane had 74 passengers on board. Among them were three cabinet officials led by Uganda's minister for Works and Transport Monica Ntege Azuba, Uganda Airlines and Uganda Civil Aviation officials, tour operators, celebrities and journalists.
The airline also flew to Juba in South Sudan as it sets its target on the East African travel market which is currently dominated by Ethiopian Airways.
Its fleet of twin-engined Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jet airliners will also connect to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and Mogadishu in Somalia.
Jennifer Bamuturaki, the airline's Director of Marketing and Public Affairs cited that the ambition of Africa's national carrier to conduct its services to Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa, and Rwanda. He indicated the planes to connect these routes are underway and expected to start in September.
Over the next two decades, air traffic in Africa is expected to grow with six percent a year - twice as quickly as in mature markets. This is despite that most state-owned flag carriers on the continent are losing money.
The notable exception is Ethiopian Airlines, which analysts say has avoided the mistakes of other regional carriers by not falling prey to political interference.
"We undertake to be a world-class airline that will satisfy customer expectations through high-quality service," Ugandan Airlines CEO Ephraim Bagenda said at a ceremony on Tuesday at Entebbe International Airport.
Its revival will "reduce the cost of air transport and ease connectivity to and from Uganda", Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said at the ceremony.
Ugandans spend about $450m annually on foreign travel, and the state-owned airline would help keep some of this revenue within the national economy, Rugunda added.
Entebbe International Airport lies 40km south of the capital Kampala and is the country's sole international airport.
Header Image Credits: CGTN Africa