President Museveni has this morning received two bombardier CRJ900 jets at Entebbe International Airport. The aircrafts touched the ground at 9:55am amid ululations from guests signalling the official revival of Uganda’s national carrier, which was grounded in 2001.
Before landing, the air crafts first circled around the airport. President Yoweri Museveni officially received the planes at 9:57am after being water cannoned, a common tradition when a country or company receives new planes.
People danced and shouted at the new dawn. The word Uganda Airlines spotted on the sides of the planes means that Uganda has finally got a national carrier. The two air crafts have registration number 5x-KOB and 5x-EQU.
Also at the event were Works and Transport Minister, Monica Azuba Ntege, Uganda National Roads boss Allen Kagina among other dignitaries.
The Bombardier CRJ900 hit the skies for the first test flight at Montreal Mirabel International Airport, Canada recently. An 8-minute video clip was uploaded on YouTube showing the test flight. The video clip triggered excitement from Ugandans.
With its pilots further trained in Canada by the manufacturers, the pair flew out of Montreal on Friday and passed through northern Canada.
They then headed to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, before making their way to Maastricht in the Southeastern Netherlands. They would then connect to Cairo, Egypt from where they headed straight to Entebbe.
Last year, Uganda ordered for four CRJ900 regional jets as part of the much-anticipated plan for the revival of Uganda Airlines. The revived airline will be the first carrier to operate the new CRJ-series atmosphere cabin in Africa.
Atmosphere cabin design allows passengers to carry and store an "oversized" roller bag within the aircraft cabin bins, which minimizes the need to check bags at the counter or the gate.
Government paid Shillings 280 billion for the first two planes through a supplementary budget approval by Parliament. The Uganda National Airlines Company will operate the CRJ900 in dual-class configuration with 76 economy seats and 12 first class seats.
According to the manufacturer, the new model atmosphere cabin sets new standards of passenger experience in the regional jet market segment.
Key features of the new interior comprise of larger passenger living space, wheel-first roller bag capability, more spacious lavatory, increased cabin connectivity options, all integrated into a contemporary design and material choices.
The first Bombardier was supposed to be delivered last month. But there were changes in the programme. The initial plan was that the manufacturer would be delivering a jet per month starting January. This arrangement will be followed after delivery of the first aircraft.
The revival of the national carrier has divided opinions with some government technocrats, including some at the Central Bank opposing it. Government maintained it needed a carrier to promote tourism and ensure national pride.
Additional reporting by URN