Govt resumes search for new Uganda Airlines CEO

PwC will lead the search for the new Uganda Airlines boss. (Inset): Three of the chief executive officer, who have served the airline in acting capacity. (L-R): Mr Bagenda, Mr Muleya and Ms Bamuturaki. PHOTO/STEPHEN OTAGE

What you need to know:

  • Uganda Airlines has not had a substantive chief executive officer since it was launched in 2019.

Government has resumed the search for a substantive Uganda Airlines chief executive officer months after the process was abandoned last year. 

The process was abandoned following suspension of senior managers and board members of  Uganda Airlines. 

In February 2020, government had settled on Profiles International,  which had beaten three others in a process procured by Ministry of Works, to conduct the search.  
It is not clear why government abandoned the process.  

However, at the weekend, Mr Waiswa Bageya, the Works Ministry permanent secretary, told Monitor the search would be redone after bid documents were sent to four firms, before settling on PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). 

“We did not advertise but instead developed a bid document and terms of reference [that were] sent to KPMG, Ernst & Young, PwC and another. We zeroed on PwC,” he said, noting that whereas government would have loved the process to be as fast as possible, there are a number of technical considerations that cannot be rushed.  

However, Mr Bageya was not sure of other details including when the search is expected to be completed and finer details of the terms of reference. 

“The exercise will look at competence both within and outside Uganda. It is not necessarily limited to Ugandans,” he said. 

Last Friday, through a media notice, PwC indicated it had started the search for a chief executive officer of Uganda Airlines to help the airline create a hub at Entebbe International Airport for interconnecting passengers moving to north-south, east-west across Africa, regional destinations and destinations in Europe, Middle East and Asia. 

“Uganda Airlines would like to recruit a chief executive officer [who will be] responsible for leading and driving the business and success of the airline. The [CEO] will be responsible for devising and executing the airline’s strategy,” the notice reads in part.

The new boss will be expected to guide formulation and implementation of strategy, commercial, financial, operations, people, stakeholder relationship and compliance management, corporate communications and oversight of information systems. 

The search will specifically focus on people who have wide experience in commercial aviation but those outside aviation, who have comparable experience from other sectors and can demonstrate ability to execute the tasks highlighted above, will be considered.    

Uganda Airlines has not had a substantive chief executive officer since it was launched in 2019.

The airline was launched 18 years after it was liquidated, with government appointing Mr Ephraim Bagenda in the initial months as the acting chief executive officer, before he was replaced and appointed as director of engineering and maintenance. 

Until February, Mr Cornwell Muleya, who is now facing charges of corruption and mismanagement related to how he managed the airlines, was the acting chief executive officer having been appointed on contract in October 2019. 

However, he was sacked in February after months of suspension and was last week arraigned before court.  

Before his arrest, he had petitioned court, claiming Shs3.3b in compensation over alleged illegal sacking. 

The case had been forwarded to the Industrial Court by the Wakiso District labour office after Uganda Airlines had on two occasions, without giving any reason, not appeared for scheduled mediation talks. 

In February, the Ministry of Works appointed Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki, who was the former Uganda Airlines commercial to lead the airline in acting capacity. 

Ms Bamuturaki had herself been forced out of the airline after completing her probation. 

Mr Muleya had in a document to the President accused her of insider trading in a brief that made a number of accusations on people within the airline, board and outsiders. 

Served in acting capacity

All the three Uganda Airlines cheif executive officers, including Mr Ephraim Bagenda, Mr Cornwell Mulaye and now Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki  have served in acting capacity with periodical contract renewals ranging from six months to one year.