By Amos Wekesa
National carrier discussions are on and in high gear and I haven’t interacted with those putting information together. Hopefully, one of you is involved. We partially discussed it at State House (Entebbe) last week.
Ugandans, according to Minister of Works, will be able to buy shares in the new national carrier and I real hope I can invest my hard UGX350, 000 but would like to share a few ideas based on my discussion with a few people I interacted with two weeks ago at a meeting in Florida.
David, my colleague in New York who happens to market Norway in the US read my facebook post after I had met Norwegian airline to discuss the consideration of flying to Uganda as one of their destination. He said, that airline wasn’t making losses because (of) its well thought formula. Their polites are based in Spain for take purposes and they bought same type of aircraft’s which lowers the costs maintenance and they are low in fuel consumption. They seem unbelievably cheap to fly out of the US to Norway.
To me a national carrier is still more of an infrastructure than a business and for Uganda’s case, I would propose cargo planes be given high consideration because they will quickly increase on our exports if we do the right marketing for our produce. Today, we have only 80 tonnes of cargo per day leaving through Entebbe and if you compare that will Ethiopia, it’s peanuts…..Ethiopia exports between 300 to 350 tonnes daily during high season and 200 to 250 tonnes during low season.
That means Uganda does just about 30,000 tonnes annually and Ethiopia over 100,000 tonnes annually. Now think about the impact on agriculture and I hope that spurs manufacturing in Uganda because Ethiopia garments exports to the West has gone high because of the access to the markets through Ethiopian airlines.
Uganda is majorly thinking about the amounts of money spent by say Government officials and Ugandans traveling to other countries which is above USD 400m annually as the main incentive of setting up the national Carrier, so I think. We should study routes very carefully and consider our tourism source markets as top priority because much as we want to save money spent by Ugandans traveling elsewhere, our key focus should be looking at people coming to Uganda to spend money – that requires good marketing brains.
Rwanda Air for example started flying to Mumbai and set up two flights daily to South Africa. The night Rwanda Air flies from South Africa is mainly full of Indians out of Durban to Mumbai…..the second highest population of Indians living outside India I think is based in Durban (correct me if am wrong). Rwanda air is considering a direct flight into Durban to service its Mumbai route. Rwanda air has set up a second hub in Benin doing West African routes but fetching people from West Africa headed to Dubai mainly as well as East Africa. Rwanda air will probably do Kigali-Benin-New York next when they start New York…..
Anyway, let me first work then discuss later.
Amos Wekesa is a Ugandan tourism promoter and entrepreneur