Airbus signed an agreement to sell two commercial passenger planes to Uganda as part of the country’s plan to revive a national airline which has been defunct for years.
The government of long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni said restarting the national carrier will help Uganda take a slice of the region’s growing aviation business and also invigorate the service sector of the economy.
Kenya Airways, South Africa Airways and Ethiopian Airlines currently dominate the country’s air travel sector.
In a statement on the memorandum of understanding signed at Farnborough airshow, Airbus said Uganda would purchase two A330-800neo aircraft.
An iteration of Airbus’ A330 widebody airliner, the A330-800neo features new wings and Rolls-Royce’s new generation Trent 7000 engines.
Airbus chief commercial officer, Eric Schulz said the planes would “bring a range of benefits offering unrivalled efficiencies with the most modern cabin. We look forward to see the A330-800neo flying in the colours of Uganda.”
Founded by Ugandan former dictator Idi Amin in 1976, Uganda Airlines was liquidated in the 1990s by Museveni’s government under a broader programme to privatise troubled state firms and open the economy to private enterprise.
The country is keen to expand its aviation industry, as it prepares to start pumping crude oil from fields in its west, a development expected drive up business traveller arrivals.
A new international airport, financed partly with UK credit, is being built near the oilfields, primarily to service them.
Once completed it will be the country’s second international airport after Entebbe, south of Kampala, which is being expanded with a loan from China to handle more passengers and cargo.
“This agreement demonstrates our ambition for economic growth supported by a robust aviation industry,” Ephraim Bagenda, chief executive officer of Uganda Airlines said.