Government is in the process of recruiting a substantive chief executive officer for Uganda Airlines, Daily Monitor has learnt.
The process, which is still in early stages, will see the Ministry of Works and Transport engage a consultancy, which will then place adverts to invite interested candidates and later conduct interviews for the position.
Currently, Mr Cornwell Muleya, the former Air Uganda chief executive officer, is serving in acting capacity.
Mr Muleya before the launch of Uganda Airlines, had been serving as a technical adviser with Mr Ephraim Bagenda, an aeronautical engineer, holding as the carrier’s managing director.
Mr Bagenda has since been moved to a new position as director of engineering and maintenance.
However, no details were available to explain how he was disengaged from the managing director role.
Speaking to Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday, Works and Transport Permanent Secretary Waiswa Bageya, confirmed that the search process had already been initiated with government seeking to recruit a vibrant chief executive officer, who would drive the national airline to desired levels.
Acting chief executive officer
Asked whether government had appointed Mr Muleya, Mr Bageya said the former Air Uganda chief executive officer was only holding the position in an acting capacity.
“We are in the process of recruiting a substantive chief executive officer. We thought [sic] to get a consultancy to support the process. We shall go through [a bidding] process and whoever will have the best offer will take it,” he said, noting that whereas they had not earmarked a period within which the process will be completed, the ministry was “trying to fast-track everything”.
“It will not take so long. We have to fast-track the process. It is important that we get somebody substantive,” Mr Bageya said, emphasising that the process will not be restricted to only Ugandans as government would need to cast its nets as wide as possible to get the right person.
Uganda Airlines on Monday added on its fleet, flying in two Bombardier aircraft to raise the number to four.
Government also expects to fly in at least two long-haul aircrafts towards the end of next year.
Interviewed yesterday about the search, Mr Muleya told Daily Monitor he was not aware of the process.
“I think you are premature into the story now because like that one, I have not even heard. So, maybe talk to the [Works and Transport] Ministry. I don’t know what they [Works and Transport Ministry] are doing,” he said.
Asked whether he would apply when the position is advertised, Mr Muleya said: “No comment.”
Captain Francis Babu, one of Uganda’s aviation experts, yesterday said that whereas Mr Bagenda is a very good engineer, he might not be the most suitable chief executive officer, especially for a start-up airline.
“This is a very complex area, especially a business startup in the airline industry, you require somebody who is very effective, hands-on and very fast because competition is so stiff. You need somebody who can martial a team that is going to be effective, efficient and fast. I think the board must have realised that they need a person who is a notch higher,” he said.
About Cornwell Muleya, acting Uganda airlines CEO
Cornwell Muleya is a Zambian chemical engineer, accountant and aviation consultant, who served as the technical director at Uganda National Airlines Company.
He studied at the University of Bath, in Bath, Somerset, UK from 1983 until 1986, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.
He started out as an audit manager at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, working out of their Lusaka office between 1989 and 1995. He then moved to Air Botswana, working there for seven years, rising to the position of chief executive officer.
He has also previously worked with Air Mauritius Zambezi Airlines, ALS – Aircraft Leasing Services, and Air Uganda as the chief executive officer from 2013 until 2014.
Mr Muleya is the founder and director of Cornwell Aviation Consultants Limited, an aviation consultancy based in Lusaka Zambia.