It’s an exciting time for African aviation. Kenya Airways is launching flights to New York later this year, RwandAir hopes to soon start flying to New York, Air Tanzania just took delivery of a single 787, and Zimbabwe Airways is keeping us entertained.
The government of Uganda has just ordered two A330neos for an airline that doesn’t currently exist.
Uganda Airlines was in operation between 1977 and 2001, when it liquidated. Since then, the country has been left without a national airline. A private airline did operate in the country between 2007 and 2014, but it has now been four years since they’ve had any sort of an airline.
Obviously having a national airline and easy access to the country helps greatly with attracting investments and improving the position of a country, though at times the way that governments try to invest in airlines doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
It looks like Uganda is the latest African country that’s trying to revive their national airline. The government had already placed an order for four CRJ-900s, which seems like a reasonable order for trying to launch a new airline.
But during the Farnborough Airshow today, Uganda Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding for two A330-800neo aircraft. They plan to use these planes for international longhaul routes, and want to configure the planes with 20 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 213 economy seats.
Uganda Airlines’ CEO had the following to say about the order:
“This agreement demonstrates our ambition for economic growth supported by a robust aviation industry. The A330-800neo combines low operating costs, long range flying capability and high levels of comfort and we are looking forward to launch operations and offer our customers best-in-class service.”
Here’s what Airbus’ chief commercial officer had to say:
“We are delighted to welcome Uganda Airlines among our A330neo customers, the A330neo will bring a range of benefits offering unrivalled efficiencies with the most modern cabin. We look forward to see the A330-800neo flying in the colors of Uganda.”
Last I heard, the airline is expected to take delivery of CRJ-900s later this year, while an exact timeline hasn’t yet been provided of when they’d get these A330-800neos. The A330-800neo will undergo test flights later this year, so I imagine the deliveries could be pretty soon.
What’s especially interesting is that Uganda Airlines is the only airline that has the A330-800neo on order. Previously Hawaiian Airlines was the only airline to have ordered the plane, but they canceled their order in favor of the 787 earlier this year. I don’t really get the economics of Airbus even wanting to sell two of a type of plane that doesn’t have any other orders and is essentially a failure, let alone doing so for a government that may or may not end up following through with this new airline.
These are some interesting times for African aviation, and I’m looking forward to reviewing as many African airlines over the next year as possible. Here’s to hoping that other airlines make it easier on me than TAAG Angola did…
As someone who loves trying new airlines, I’m rooting for Uganda Airlines!
What do you make of the revival of Uganda Airlines, and do you think they’ll follow through with these A330-800neos?