The Works minister has dismissed claims of an ongoing recruitment for staff for Uganda Airlines whose revival process is in the pipeline.
In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday following reports that government was silently recruiting top managers of the Uganda Airlines, Ms Monica Ntege, refuted the rumour as false and unfounded.
“The fact is that there are people who might be interested in working with Uganda Airlines. But we haven’t reached that stage because the restoration plans are still in process,” Ms Ntege said.
On whether Uganda had contracted a supplier to procure the planes, a highly placed source intimated that the government has already contracted two foreign firms to procure planes, something the Works minister described as “baseless and false talk”.
“Government can get these planes by lease or procuring them. However, all that hasn’t been discussed. As Works minister, I’m yet to present that report to Cabinet for discussion,” she said.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) manager public affairs, Mr Ignie Igunduura, yesterday said a technical committee set up by government to study how the airline would operate has already submitted a report to Cabinet.
“As of now, issues concerning Uganda Airlines are not in our hands. It is the government in charge. We are just part of the technical committee set up by the government and we shall implement what government has decided,” Mr Igunduura said.
Finance ministry spokesman Jim Mugunga also admitted that government had set up a technical committee comprised of officials from CAA, Works and Finance ministries, among other agencies.
“We are not aware about the recruitment and procurement processes. But I think that stage hasn’t been reached. What I know the committee is analysing how the airline will operate,” Mr Mugunga said.
Restoration of Uganda Airlines is among the 20-point programme President Museveni is popularising since his swearing in for the fifth elective term.
While giving his speech on the 54th independence anniversary on Sunday in Luuka District, President Museveni reiterated that Uganda Airlines would be in operation by April 2017.
Mr Museveni said his government allowed Uganda Airlines to die because it was making losses and at that time Ugandans were not travelling as much as today.
“Somebody has told me that Ugandans are spending $420m (Shs1.4 trillion) per on travel. Therefore, the NRM government has decided to start (restore) a national airline to stop the outflow of this money and to end travel inconveniences to Ugandans. We are now finalising the modalities,” President Museveni said in his independence speech.
Uganda Airlines internally operated on routes such as Kasese, Arua, Gulu, Mbarara, Soroti and Tororo. Regionally, it flew to Goma, Kinshasa, Dar-es-Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Kigali, Bujumbura, Nairobi and Mombasa. It later spread its wings to international destinations such as Dubai, Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Rome, Cologne, London, Lusaka and Harare.
Uganda Airlines was established in May 1976 but commenced operations in 1977. However, the airline suffered a debt crisis after funds were mismanaged.
The government then sought to privatise it but later halted its operations in May 2001 after investors supposed to lift it from its debt and management crisis pulled out. Government, now, says the airline can be taken back to the skies.