Discussions about restoring the national airline are on and in high gear though I have not interacted with those putting the information together. Hopefully, one of you is involved.
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-earned Shs350,000.
But I would like to share a few ideas based on my discussion with a few people I interacted with some time back at a meeting in Florida.
David, my colleague in New York who happens to market Norway in the US, read my post on Facebook after I had met Norwegian airline officials to discuss the consideration of flying to Uganda as one of their destinations. He said that their airline was not making losses because it is run under a well-thought out formula.
They are based in Spain for take purposes and they bought the same type of aircrafts, which lowers the costs in maintenance and they are also low on fuel consumption.
They seem unbelievably cheap to fly with 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 that 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 International Airport and if you compare that with Ethiopia, it is peanuts. Ethiopia exports between 300 to 350 tonnes daily during high season and 200 to 250 tonnes during low season. That means that Uganda does just about 30,000 tonnes annually while Ethiopia grosses over 100,000 tonnes annually.
Now think about the impact on agriculture and I hope that spurs manufacturing in Uganda because Ethiopian garment exports to the West had 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 travelling to other countries, which is above $400m annually as the main incentive of setting up the national carrier.
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. Now, that requires good marketing brains.
Rwanda Air for example, started flying to Mumbai, India, and set up two flights daily to South Africa. The Rwanda Air night flight from South Africa is mainly full of Indians out of Durban to Mumbai.
Rwanda Air is considering a direct flight into Durban to service its Mumbai route. Rwanda Air has set up a second hub in Benin to cater for 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 flying to New York in the US. Anyway, let me first work then discuss later.
The writer is an investment expert