The establishment of a new local airline is expected to boost Uganda’s tourism sector as connectivity to both domestic and international destinations improves.
Last week, Vule Airways announced its entry into the local airline market with promises of working “hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities to ensure maximum value for money” for tourists.
Currently the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner, tourism is seen as a pivotal pillar of Uganda’s economy, raking in an average of $1.1 billion per year in revenues. In 2016, Uganda attracted an estimated 1.4 million international visitors and was the most visited country in East Africa.
“Our intention is to facilitate tourism and trade by providing easy, quick and affordable transport, especially to traders and tourists,” Robert Mwesigwa, the board chairman and managing director of the new airline, told a press conference in the capital Kampala last week.
“Vule Airways is to be operated as a budget airline to build domestic, regional and international routes covering all the continents of the world,” the airline said in a press release.
The new privately-owned Ugandan airline, which is currently waiting for an air service license from Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority, hopes to take to the sky in November 2017, starting with flights from its hub at Entebbe International Airport to other East African Community member states: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
In the beginning, the airline will deploy six aircraft, flying travelers to more than 20 destinations in Africa, Europe and Asia. But “by the end of the first 12 months,” the airline said, “Vule Airways anticipates its fleet to have grown from the initial six to 12 in order to cover all the continents of the globe.”
In total, the airline plans to fly to over 50 destinations—10 domestic and 40 international.
Vule Airways’ international routes will include, among others, London, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Mumbai, Lagos, Accra, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Singapore, Kinshasa, Dubai, Juba, Kigali, Bujimbura, Windhoek, Victoria Falls, Tunis, Tel Aviv, Mogadishu, Juba, Nairobi, Dar es salaam and Blantyre.
Locally, the airline will fly to Arua, Kisoro, Kasese, Jinja, Tororo, Soroti, Mbarara, Kihihi, Moroto, Kalangala and “where we have national parks and game reserves.”
The airline, which claims to have invested more than $40m so far, will kick off operations with one De Havilland DHC-8-200, one De Havilland DHC-8-400, three Boeing B737-700Ng and one Boeing B777-200ER.
Vule Airways’ biggest plane has a capacity of 300 passengers while the smallest will carry 40 passengers, the airline said.