KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – A Kenya Airways Boeing 737-300 jet was on Monday morning involved in an incident at the Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. However, there were no injuries or casualties on the 113 passengers and seven crew members on board and no damage to the aircraft.

In a statement, Kenya Airways said that owing to heavy downpour and poor visibility in Entebbe, the pilot landed long and into the runway, deflating the tire as a result. “The tire was subsequently changed in 35 minutes and the plane embarked on the return journey to Nairobi with 66 passengers and 7 crew members on board,” the statement issued from the airline’s Nairobi head office in Kenya said.

The carrier flies more than five times daily to Entebbe, the international airport of Uganda’s capital Kampala, from its Nairobi hub.

One of the best performing airlines in Africa, the carrier lost one of its Boeing 737-700 aircraft near Douala in Cameroon in May 2007 in an accident that resulted in the death of over 100 passengers and crew.

With a fleet of 23 aircraft, Kenya Airways serves more than 2.5 million passengers annually and flies to 43 destinations in 36 countries, including cities across Africa, as well as Amsterdam, London and select destinations in Asia, including Dubai, Mumbai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

The carrier is owned 23 percent by the government of Kenya, 26 percent by Royal Dutch KLM Airlines, and 51 percent by over 80,000 individuals and institutional investors mostly from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Britain and Netherlands. It operates a code share, management contract and partnership with KLM.

Kenya Airways is one of the only three companies quoted on all three East African stock markets – Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan carrier is facing tough competition on its routes from Nairobi to Entebbe from new entrants Fly540 Aviation Kenya Airlines and Air Uganda. Fly540 introduced two daily flights between Nairobi and Entebbe from February 27, 2008 with a one-way fare of Us 79 dollars. The Uganda services followed the launch of flights to Juba earlier the same month.

Initially ATR 42-320 turbo prop aircraft with a capacity of 48 passengers are being used on the Nairobi to Entebbe route. Later the airline will introduce the larger ATR 72-500 which also has turbo prop engines and will carry 12 business class and 50 economy class passengers.

Talking about the development of Fly540, Don Smith, the company’s chief executive officer, said, “The popularity of our flights between Nairobi, Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, Kisumu and Eldoret has driven our plan to establish similar operations in other African countries.”

He added, “Uganda will be the first of a series of individual Fly540 units which will each have its own fleet of aircraft in the future. Our aim is to have operations based on the Kenya model in eight African countries by the year end.”

And speaking in Kampala recently, Uganda Airline’s CEO, Peter De Waal, said discussions were ongoing, on the possibility of leasing a cargo plane. “We are negotiating the possibility of leasing a cargo plane which is in the discretion phase and we feel there is space for it,” he said.

The company, which made its debut flight on the Entebbe-Nairobi route last November, has so far entered into various interline agreements that are geared towards improving its services. The airline boss also announced that they have transported over 22,000 passengers since they began.

De Waal added that the airline was being audited, after which it would finalise interline agreements with a number of companies including South African Airways, KLM and Qatar Air.

Since its inauguration, the airline has wielded a 35 percent market share and is targeting a 50 percent share by the close of 2008.