Uganda Airlines today morning made its first commercial flight from Entebbe to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) with eight passengers on board. The airline, which departed at Entebbe Airport at 6:05 am touched down at JKIA at exactly 7 am, five minutes ahead of the scheduled landing. The tickets were priced at a promotional fee of $277 (about Shs 1,022,337) meaning the airline earned just Shs 8,178,696 on its first commercial flight.
The passengers were businessman Peter Ssenkungu, Workers’ Union leader Usher Wilson Owere, his wife Evelyn, Kwezi Tabaro, Joseph Kasigazi, and journalists Alon Mwesigwa, Olive Nakatudde and Gyegenda Ssemakula.
UR’s Bombardier CRJ-900 has a seating capacity of 76 (12 first-class) and the flight captain was Charles Karabarinde, helped by first officer Denis Chotum, purser Asiimwe Neema and cabin crew members; Ronnie Kasemiire and Johnson Mugume. Two pilots in training Drazu Tina and Rashid Cheboy were on the flight carrying out observations. The language on board was English and none of the local languages.
The smooth touch-down was welcomed by the passengers with emphatic applause despite being few in number. The passengers hailed their being on the very first commercial flight of the airline as historical and a memoir worth the tale.
Also, while taxing at JKIA, the flight received a water salute, a norm whenever there is a delivery of plane or when an airline is making a maiden flight at a particular airport.
Pilot Karabarinde said “everything was perfect. We reported in our offices and everyone was happy.” The passengers came on time and we arrived on time. We reached Nairobi and we were warmly welcomed,” he said.
This is the first time the national carrier is flying a commercial flight in 20 years – this was the beginning of a long journey that Uganda hopes takes a sweet turn. The airline is expected to promote tourism and sell the country. It is also a symbol of pride for the country. The airline claims to have spent only Shs 120m on a promotional flight for government officials, celebrities and media members to JKIA.