Uganda Airlines Orders Two A330neos

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 colours 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?

Comments

  1. The national bird of Uganda, the crested crane is prominently featured on the tail-livery of the plane.

  2. Ben, I’m typically pretty receptive of your news articles and think they’re valid, and I sometimes think people who comment “where the next review” are annoying, but now I’m starting to see where they’re coming from.

    It’s starting to seem like you only post articles about news you can put a snarky spin on or have some sort of drama. TPG posted a “feel good” article about a teacher on Southwest getting unsolicited money for her students on a flight, while you use Uganda starting up an airline to take a jab at TAAG. And your last review (and I get you love Emirates) was of Emirates… something we’ve seen dozens of times. Not trying to be rude, but, I’m excited to see Air Belgium and Oman Air and I’m starting to get impatient, and while I think you do tend to do a good job keeping things balanced, that’s been hard to see lately.

    It’s your blog, so write what you want, but I wanted you to take note of that.

  3. I agree with Trey. I love you and have been reading you for years.

    We’re all geeks I suppose, overly interested in Miles and Points, etc. but I’m starting to feel like I did in Junior High when a couple of my friends started playing “Dungeons and Dragons” every waking hour and took their geekiness to a whole other level and left me feeling sad and alone.

    I think the esoteric airlines should perhaps just “pepper” the blog and not provide the main course. I hope the new bloggers (excellent decision, by the way) , in the future will not be the only writers to deliver relevant content, leaving you with just the obscure and the mundane (Credit card shilling).

  4. Just a question but do you have any proof to back the statement “Obviously having a national airline and easy access to the country helps greatly with attracting investments and improving the position of a country”? Seems to me serious investors can find a way to a small country even if they don’t have a flag carrier. And economic development and buying power will then bring more air service….governments don’t inherently need to build service before there is demand.

  5. This is not surprising as the Ugandan government has been intending to purchase new aircraft for state travel for over two years now…

  6. Thanks for the interesting article Lucky. I continue to be baffled why people come to just complain about everything but I guess that’s just the internet for you.

  7. Will they get the MSN1888, which is currently doing test and certification flights for Airbus? Considering the limited sales, it wouldn’t be strange to sell the test aircraft to a bargain-seeking customer.

  8. @ Pedro

    Didn’t know constructive criticism counted as “complaining” but I guess that’s just the Internet for you.

    I was respectful and it’s not like Ben has a “suggestions” box around here.

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