Kampala – Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted rights to RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines to operate two routes out of Entebbe International Airport, pending re-certification of Air Uganda that was suspended last month.
The airlines have been permitted to fly to Juba and Nairobi to increase passenger and cargo capacity on these routes. This is referred to as “fifth freedom rights,” which allow an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries.
“We have given RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines fifth freedom rights to run the routes that have been severely affected by the suspension,” said Ignie Igundura, the corporate affairs manager at CAA.
The Ugandan regulator withdrew air operator certificates for the international operations of three airlines including Air Uganda, following a review by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
This led to a hike in the cost of air travel within the region. Prior to the suspension, Air Uganda operated daily flights to Juba and Nairobi - routes also covered by Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines.
Air Uganda chief executive officer Cornwell Muleya said they were baffled by CAA’s move to award its traffic rights to other foreign airlines.
“We are in the third phase of re-certification, out of the required five phases. As we are doing so, CAA is giving away our traffic rights. What happens when we are finally re-certified? They are killing the airline industry in Uganda,” he said.
But Igundura said CAA will make new arrangements when Air Uganda completes its re-certification. Air-Uganda suspended its operations indefinitely, saying its potential re-certification was weeks away and that lessors had recalled their aircraft.