Uganda Airlines flights to Mombasa drawcard for gorilla tourism and regional trade
Uganda Airlines on Monday successfully received a water canon salute on its maiden flight to Moi International Airport at the coastal town of Mombasa, Kenya.
Bombardier CRJ900 jet Flight UR 342 took off at 11:30 am and landed in Mombasa slightly after 1:40 pm. Passengers on the maiden flight were led by the Honorable Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof.Ephrhaim Kamuntu; Lily Ajarova, CEO Uganda Tourism Board; Jean Byamugisha, CEO Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA); Gloria Tumwesigye, CEO Association of Uganda Tour Operators Association (AUTO); and regular passengers totaling 74.
Speaking at the launch, Ahabwa Godfrey, Chairmman Uganda Airlines Board, gave reassurance saying: “Tourists keen to sample what Uganda and Kenya have to offer will enjoy a quick and direct flight. We are committed to ensure that these efforts will translate into success so that the Crane (Uganda airlines) keeps in the skies.”
Lily Ajarova also presented a case for visiting Uganda’s tourism attractions from the Source of the Nile, Uganda Equator, the snow-capped Ruwenzori ranges, to name a few.
Andrew Tumusiime, Uganda’s head of administration, said the airline is offering a promotional fare of a one-way ticket to woo more tourists to the coast. “Tourism is Uganda’s biggest foreign earner, and we hope to capitalize on the flights to bring our visitors to Mombasa for beach holidays after enjoying our various sites in Uganda,” said Mr. Tumusiime.
Mombasa is a popular destination for landlocked Uganda whose nationals visit coastal getaways for weddings, anniversaries, and family holidays. Fort Jesus,the old town, and resorts along the Indian Ocean are popular destinations.
According to Kenya Ports Authority, trade Uganda is the leading port user accounting for a quarter of goods out of Mombasa from merchandise to vehicles. For many businessmen wishing to expedite clearance of their goods at the port, taking a direct flight rather than a 2-day road trip is a preferred option.
Mombasa is also an important destination for charters from Europe to Moi International Airport going onward to the coastal towns of Malindi and Lamu and occasionally cruise lines docking at Mombasa port of call.
Uganda Airlines’ 1 1/2-hour direct flight to and from Entebbe is a a draw card to boost flights to Uganda’s flagship tourist attraction the mountain gorillas located in Mt. Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Parks located in southwestern Uganda.
Both parks are already serviced by 3 times daily scheduled flights provided by Aerolink and Fly Uganda to Kisoro and Kihihi airfields one hour from Entebbe International Airport plus transfers by road to the parks.
Kenya Airways and RwandAir also fly to Mombasa, but both make a stopovers in Nairobi with a one-hour layover making the flight almost more than an hour longer than direct flights.
Flights to Kilimanjaro, another popular tourist destination, to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater start November 13.