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How Entebbe Airport Certification Status Is Stopping Uganda Airlines Flying To The UK

SimpleFlying 1/30/2023 Tatenda Karuwa
© Provided by SimpleFlying

Uganda Airlines' plans to fly directly to London have been stopped as the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) has failed to update its certification from the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).

The national carrier plans to operate flights between the United Kingdom and Entebbe International Airport, Uganda's single international hub. According to local sources, the UCAA has been trying to update the airport's certification since the last ICAO inspection in 2014.

The airport must meet many standards, including accident investigations, operations safety, and security. According to reports, during the last inspection, ICAO scrutinized the airport's legislation, organization, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigations, air navigation services, and aerodromes.

Entebbe Airport scored 61.6% in the areas above. This score is well below the global average, with countries in the region scoring higher. With the last audit being carried out nearly a decade ago, Uganda Airlines may have to wait longer before it touches London.

Problems at Entebbe

After a critical analysis, the airport was not given the all-clear by the civil aviation authority for numerous reasons. Neglecting runway friction tests and the absence of the wind velocity display in the watch room, radio to monitor inbound flights, equipment to access the top deck of planes like the Boeing B747, and marine rescue jackets were some of the problems noted by ICAO.

On April 15, 2022, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni met with Kate Airey, the UK ambassador to Uganda, and Lord Popat, a conservative Peer at the House of Lords. Popat told president Museveni that trade between the two countries would blossom if Uganda Airlines commenced direct flights to London. Lord Popat added that;

“If Uganda is willing, we are ready to send our Aviation people here to help the UCAA so that we can have direct flights to the UK.”

In 2018, ICAO selected Entebbe International Airport among other international hubs for certification assistance. ICAO sent an aerodrome expert to oversee the process for 12 months.

According to reports, the ICAO expert started helping the UCAA build the operational and sustainable capabilities of the airport staff. However, after three months, the expert raised concerns about negative attitudes and lack of support from airport staff and withdrew from the task.

The reports also showed that the senior management in the airport operations did not fully participate in the aerodrome certification preparation, such as documentation and procedure consultations. The head of state blamed the delay of this certification on lazy public service.

Uganda Airlines plans to extend its route network

The nation's flag carrier has been ready to fly to the United Kingdom for years. After purchasing two Airbus A330-800 Neo aircraft in 2020 and 2021, the airline secured slots for departures and arrivals at London's Heathrow International Airport. Furthermore, it submitted an application for an Air Operator's Certificate to operate in the UK and expected to commence the flights in January 2021.

Two years later, and still unable to operate this critical and profitable route, Uganda Airlines solely blames the UCAA and the UCAA certification committee. Following the failure of the last ICAO inspection, the committee spent billions of taxpayer money on benchmarking in several countries, but the standards still have not been met.

Entebbe International Airport has been under public scrutiny for a while. This story comes not long after civilians exposed extortion, corruption, and other unethical practices by airport officials. With all these issues surfacing, Uganda Airlines' hopes of flying from Entebbe to London hang in the balance.

Source: ch-aviation, chimpreports

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