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Resurrected Uganda Airlines flies into crowded African skies

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 30, 2019 - Duration: 01:43s

Resurrected Uganda Airlines flies into crowded African skies

Uganda Airlines has taken to the skies once more after almost two decades out of action, but flies into a crowded aviation market in Africa where carriers have the weakest finances and emptiest planes of any region in the world.

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Resurrected Uganda Airlines flies into crowded African skies

Uganda Airlines is back in business - taking to the skies once more after almost two decades out of action.

But getting off the ground places them straight into a crowded aviation market in Africa, where carriers have the weakest finances, and emptiest planes, of any region in the world.

Commercial flights are back on the agenda for the state carrier as of Wednesday (August 28).

Its first since it was liquidated in 2001.

Its chief executive hopes to take a slice of the East African aviation business - currently dominated by Ethiopian Airlines, the continent's success story.

SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF EXECUTIVE, UGANDA AIRLINES, EPHRAIM BAGENDA, SAYING: "The number of passengers travelling into Entebbe Airport, in and out of Entebbe Airport is approaching 2 million.

70 percent of those are Ugandans.

All those currently travel on foreign airlines, so we want part of that cake and that is quite a substantial number of people." Uganda is not alone in seeking to pour money into national flag carriers.

Tanzania and Senegal are also following suit, while the likes of Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Togo are expanding theirs.

But high business costs are one problem.

Protectionism is another.

It has impeded a continental open-skies agreement, which industry experts say is essential if African carriers are to thrive in a tough industry.

Demand there is forecast to grow almost 5% a year over the next two decades in terms of passengers.

That's faster than mature markets, according to the International Air Transport Association.

But it starts from a low base, and most state-owned carriers in the region are losing money.

IATA said in June that African airlines are projected to make combined losses of $100 million this year.

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