Ugandans on Wednesday morning welcomed RwandAir’s brand new Airbus 330-200, named Ubumwe (Unity), describing it as a relief to challenges in the region’s airline industry.
The aircraft made a stopover at Entebbe International Airport, Uganda en-route from France to Kigali
At exactly 9:49am local time, the Airbus touched down at the Entebbe amid excitement and joy from the huge audience that included diplomats accredited to Uganda, and officials from Uganda’s Ministry of Transport.
The airline’s chief executive John Mirenge, and a team of the airline officials and journalists were aboard the aircraft, as it touched the tarmac to a spectacular water salute.
Amos Wekesa, the director of Great Lakes Safaris, a Ugandan tour company, said the arrival of the new aircraft will make it easy for his clients to now travel from London to East Africa without making unnecessary stopovers.
“We are happy for Rwanda. This new addition by RwandAir should inspire all of us in the travel industry. When Rwandans are wealthy we are also wealthy because they always choose Uganda as their best destination to spend money,” he said.
The new aircraft, worth $250 million (about Rwf200 billion) brings the airline’s total fleet to nine with additional four planes expected to be delivered by end of February next year.
“The decision by RwandAir to add aircraft of the size of an Airbus A330-200 to the Entebbe route is a positive sign of air transport business viability on the route and a vote of confidence in the air transport industry in Uganda and the economy in general,” said David Kakuba, the Deputy Managing Director of Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority said.
Robert Ntambi, a director in Uganda’s Transport Ministry, said his government is currently spending $324 million in the modern expansion of Entebbe International Airport to be able to cater for more growing airlines such as RwandAir.
He said that the Ugandan government has plans of constructing another international airport in Hoima, western Uganda and in other different parts of the country.
“We congratulate RwandAir upon this steady growth. Airlines like RwandAir help government to achieve its national strategic goals such as job creation,” Kakuba said.
Mirenge told his audience in Entebbe that RwandAir chose Entebbe as the only stopover of the new Airbus 330-200 from France due to the attention the airline attaches to the Ugandan market.
He reiterated RwandAir’s commitment to playing a part in leveling of fares of air travel in the region; so that East Africans eventually find it cheap to travel by air compared to so many hours spent on travelling by road.
The aircraft is expected to be deployed on the Dubai route.
“Africa is the new frontier of growth. Ugandans do a lot of businesses in Europe and Asia and this informed our choice for Entebbe. Secondly, the Airbus is called Ubumwe (Unity), after knowing what Rwanda went through – this unity is for Rwandans, Africans and East Africans in particular,” he said.
On her part, Ada Mugenyi Magezi, RwandAir’s Country Manager in Uganda was upbeat that with its smooth air travel and comfort, the RwandAir Airbus will boast the airline industry in East Africa.