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A Sneak Peek Into The Performance Of Uganda’s Aviation Industry In 2023

Planes at Entebbe International Airport

Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) has revealed that Entebbe International Airport recorded 1,562,407 international passengers from January – October 2023 compared to 1,293,866 passengers registered over the same period in 2022.

Before COVID outbreak, Uganda recorded 1,470,488 passengers from January – October 2019.

It should be noted that the performance of air transport is majorly determined by the level of air traffic.

Fred K. Bamwesigye, the Director General at UCAA, gave the promising figures during a stakeholders’ engagement breakfast held at Kampala Serena Hotel on 5th December, 2023.

Bamwesigye presented a report on the status of the aviation industry in Uganda where he revealed that passenger traffic reduced from an average of 5,000 passengers per day in 2019 to 1,550 per day in 2020, 2,500 per day in 2021 and 4,289 per day in 2022.

However, there are clear signs of recovery.  October 2023 recorded a total of 171,978 passengers, an average of 5,547 per day.

In terms of cargo, Entebbe International Airport recorded 48,209 metric tones from January – October 2023 compared to 51,907 metric tones over the same period in 2022. From January – October 2019, Entebbe airport recorded 53,458 metric tones.

Air traffic performance at Entebbe Airport since 2019

Uganda Scores Highly in Universal Safety Oversight Audit

Uganda underwent a Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA), an audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) from September 6 -18, 2023.

The international audit was to evaluate effectiveness of Uganda’s safety oversight systems in compliance with the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

Preliminary results for Uganda indicated a score of 72.17%.  This is an overall improvement in the safety performance of Uganda.

The score was above the regional/Eastern and Southern Africa (ESAF) region average of 55.66% and global average of 67.68%.

“It is a vote of confidence in Uganda’s safety system,” Bamwesigye said.

Uganda recently hosted a very big international conference, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo under the theme ‘Strides to Transform Aviation for Development’, and it further enhanced the country’s profile as a key player in the development of the global air transport system.

L-R: UCAA Director General-Fred Bamwesigye, UCAA Board Chairman, Justice Dr. Steven B.K Kavuma and Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala at the aviation week stakeholders’ engagement breakfast

Air Operators

The UCAA boss said Uganda is currently served by 16 international scheduled operators out of 26 licensed operators.

“There are currently 52 Bilateral Air Services Agreements

This year, UCAA granted Air Services License (ASL) to 08 operators,” he said, adding that new licenses were granted to four and renewal licenses were granted to 10 operators.

New operators/new routes

BADR Airlines of Sudan resumed BADR/Tarco Aviation – Port Sudan/Entebbe flights on November 6, 2023 following suspension in 2020 while Uganda Airlines commenced Entebbe/Lagos & Entebbe/Mumbai flights in November 2023.

During the year, the Authority partnered with the Uganda Professional Pilots Association (UPPA) and organized the Uganda Aviation Expo, which took place from June 22 – 24, 2023 at Entebbe International Airport.

The event excited the public as about 500 people were flown for the first time.  Several others had a chance to board a plane for the first time.

Challenges

Bamwesigye says the COVID-19 impact on aviation operations has resulted into lower revenues. Other challenges facing the country’s aviation industry include; inadequate funding for upcountry aerodromes improvements; inadequate land for expansion at EIA and other aerodromes; policy on contract payments in Uganda shillings yet most aviation equipment is purchased from abroad and Government Debt.

“The current debt amounts to approximately 108.4 billion as per June 30, 2023. Efforts to engage government agencies to have this debt cleared continue to be undertaken with support from the Ministry of Works and Transport,” Bamwesigye said, adding that difficulties in attracting and retaining of technical staff remains a challenge mainly because of inability to pay competitive industry salaries.

He adds that removal of VAT from Passenger Service Charge was highly appreciated, but the tax policy still doesn’t fully recognize the unique nature of the aviation industry as regards the regulatory and non-commercial services in the following areas; Search and rescue services, Security services, Accident and incident investigation, Rescue and firefighting services.

 

Future plans

Uganda is scheduled to host the NAM/G77+ China Summit in January 2024 and all the delegates will be facilitated through Entebbe International Airport.

Bamwesigye says Uganda will undergo a Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) from January 30 to February 8, 2024 undertaken by ICAO.

“We are closing gaps pointed out from the previous USAP-CMA of 2017. We Conducted an emergency security exercise in November 2023 to test the contingency plan and review of documents to ensure alignment with national legislation, among others, is ongoing,” he said.

He added that the implementation of the second phase of the upgrade and expansion of Entebbe Airport will continue and that a review of the 20-year Entebbe International Airport Master Plan is ongoing.

He says UCAA will continue participating in ICAO’s Environmental protection programmes on Carbon Emissions to implement best practices to address climate change.

The just concluded  conference on alternative aviation fuels held  in Dubai  recognized that Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels (LCAF) and other aviation cleaner energies are expected to have the largest contribution to aviation CO2 emissions reduction by 2050.

States were, therefore, urged to strive to reduce carbon emissions through use of Alternative Aviation cleaner energies in the range of 3 to 5 percent.

Accordingly, Uganda as a member State is to put in place the necessary policies and regulatory framework to enable the mobilization of the required resources and capacity building to accelerate actions towards the development, production and deployment of alternative aviation with emphasis on Low Carbon Aviation Fuel (LCAF).

Taddewo William Senyonyi
https://www.facebook.com/senyonyi.taddewo
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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