Air Uganda still not granted self handling status


UGANDA (eTN) – In spite of repeated representations to the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority to be granted the status of “self handling,” i.e., being able to look after their own planes when on the ground, Uganda Airlines (U7) remains sequestered with Entebbe Handling Services, Ltd. (ENHAS) in Entebbe for their handling.

The airline has, in the past, claimed that handling charges at Uganda’s main international airport are a multiple of what they have to pay for such services, for instance in Nairobi, where a truly competitive environment now permits airlines to choose one of several competent handling companies, while in Entebbe the quasi-monopoly of ENHAS seems well protected.

Entebbe’s second handling agency, DAS Handling, which looks after Kenya Airways (KQ), following an alleged row several years ago between “the Pride of Africa” and the owners of ENHAS, does not have many more clients on their register. Some of DAS Handling’s clients were also involved with a Ugandan-registered airline trying to muscle into KQ’s market through political intervention and alleged threats over the withdrawal of slots. This leaves ENHAS to rule Entebbe until the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will eventually either yield to Air Uganda’s request by matter of reason or through political instructions, or else eventually permit the establishment of a third concessionaire for airport handling.

At the next Presidential Investors Round Table, due for November this year, the matter will undoubtedly be raised once again, and also the airline’s request to be granted national carrier status for Uganda and be given similar support and incentives as RwandAir enjoys in neighboring Rwanda.

U7 was on its inception warmly welcomed by the powers that be, very warmly in fact considering that the government-backed Victoria International Airlines had just folded within a month of start up and taking a government’s share capital down with them. Air Uganda continues to wait for a number of promises given to them, like self handling, to be implemented.