The Uganda Civil Authority-UCAA says Entebbe International Airport will be reopened for scheduled commercial passenger flights on October 1st, 2020. However, the flights are restricted to only Ugandans returning home and tourists leaving or coming into the country.
The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority - UCAA says
Entebbe International Airport will be reopened for scheduled commercial
passenger flights on October 1st, 2020.
However, the flights are restricted to only
Ugandans returning home and tourists leaving or coming into the country.
Vianney Luggya, spokesperson for the
Uganda Civil Authority-UCAA, confirmed Monday evening that the airport will be reopened,
six months after its partial shutdown.
He says that in the meantime, “the
current arrangements for handling of cargo, emergency, evacuation and
repatriation flights continue.”
Luggya says the regulator is still
discussing a number of issues regarding the resumption such as transport to and
from the airport, and flow of movement inside the airport among others.
Eng. Ayub Sooma, the UCAA director for Airports and Aviation security
on September 8th, wrote a letter to airlines’ executives saying that
passenger flights would resume on October 1st, 2020. However, it would be President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
to announce the actual resumption date.
Following Museveni’s directive to open the airport on Sunday
night, UCAA managers have agreed that the resumption of passenger flights will
take place next month.
Luggya says the reopening will be done in a phased manner. In
the first three months, 13 flights, to and from the airport have been cleared
for the first day, while 10 flights are confirmed for the second day.
These flights will be operated by among others Uganda Airlines, KLM,
Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Brussels Airlines, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways,
Air Tanzania and Ethiopian Airlines.
The resumption of passenger flights is expected to improve on the revenue inflows for both UCAA, airlines and other stakeholders. For instance, before the lockdown, UCAA was recording revenues worth 20 billion shillings a month, but this has since dropped to 1 billion Shillings.
However, the tourism industry has been the most hit because it relies heavily on commercial flights bringing in foreign tourists.
The Director Commercial at Uganda Airlines, Roger Wamara,
says the national airline is ready to operate its first commercial flight next
“We are very excited and ready to fly in the region and where airports
are open,” said Wamara. He said they will be going to Nairobi, Mogadishu and Juba when
the airport reopens.
He however says the airline is yet to announce the airfares for the
different flights. The rates will be influenced by the COVID-19 safety measures
for airlines and crews such as wearing of face masks, regular disinfection of
the aircraft among others.
Wamara adds that “Even if we do not increase our airfares, the passenger
will have to spend an extra $65 US Dollars, about shillings 240,000 for a
COVID-19 pre-flight test.”
Meanwhile, Irene Nalwoga, the Managing Director
for Renewills Tours and Travel, Women Tours and Travel and Renewills Real
Estate Company is doubtful about the resumption date.
Nalwoga also says the presidential directive
that tourists should not mix up with the general public may be difficult to
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To make matters worse, according to
Nalwoga, travel agents are not eligible for the tourism intervention fund, a
total of 61.8 billion, of which shillings 40 billion is a loan from UDB and 21
Billion is a grant from the EU.
She says some members of Uganda Hotel Owners Association - UHOA and Association of
Uganda Tour Operators - AUTO have benefited from the fund and are not affected by the closure of the airport.
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Richard Mujjuzi, the chairperson of
The Uganda Association of Travel Agents (TUGATA) says travel agents need financial help because Uganda's tourism industry could stabilize after the 2021 general elections.
Boda boda riders and special hire
taxi operators are however excited about the reopening. However, they want president Museveni to reconsider
the curfew hours.
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Jivnath Pangeni, the General
Manager, K Hotels is excited about the resumption. The hotel, currently one of the quarantine
centres, will have to first disinfect its premises before opening up for normal
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Pangeni says that the hotel will charge
the usual hotel room rate of $120 US
Dollars a night, though it has halved the rates for the quarantined travelers
and returnees. The last lot of quarantined people at the hotel are expected to
leave next week.
Meanwhile, James Kavubu, the head of
sales and marketing for Imperial Group of Hotels said the resumption of flights will bring business but “the group needs tangible results because people are fearing to travel due the pandemic.”
The group has five hotels including Grand
Imperial Hotel, Imperial Royale Hotel, Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, Imperial
Golf View Hotel and Imperial Resort Beach Hotel. Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel is the group’s
only hotel that is being used as quarantine centre.