President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has confessed to having killed Uganda airlines internationally.
Museveni made the confession publically at the celebrations marking 54 years of Uganda’s independence in Luuka district on Sunday.
“The final effort is on the issue of the airline. We allowed Uganda Airlines to die because it was making losses and, at that time, Ugandans were not travelling as much as today,” he said.
Museveni quoted a certain somebody who told him that Ugandans are spending US$420 million per year on travel.
He said the NRM Government has decided to start a National Airline to stop the outflow of this money and to end travel inconveniences to Ugandans.
“We are now finalizing the modalities. Therefore, my dear Ugandans, I can confidently tell you that the future is bright.”
According to NBS TV journalist Dalton Kaweesa, Uganda Airlines also suffered from government officials usurping the powers of its managers, often flying for free.
“If we are to avoid history repeating itself, government shouldn’t have the majority shares once Uganda Airlines returns,” he suggested.
The Observer journalist Edris Kiggundu appearing on Media Round Table said the recent Attorney General reports indicate Uganda has not overcome same issues that led to Uganda Airlines’ closure.
“Ethiopian Airlines is the only profitable airline in Africa. Do we want another white elephant? Reviving Uganda Airlines shouldn’t be one man’s decision given impact it might have on us all in event of losses.”
Uganda Airlines internally operated on routes such as Kasese, Arua, Gulu, Mbarara, Soroti and Tororo. Regionally, it flew to Goma, Kinshasa, Dar-es-Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Kigali, Bujumbura, Nairobi and Mombasa.
It later spread its wings to international destinations such as Dubai, Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Rome, Cologne, London, Lusaka and Harare.
Uganda Airlines was established in May 1976 but commenced operations in 1977.
However, the airline suffered a debt crisis after funds were mismanaged.
The government then sought to privatise it but later halted its operations in May 2001 after investors supposed to lift it from its debt and management crisis pulled out.
Government, now, says the airline can be taken back to the skies.
Meanwhile, Uganda’s works and transport minister has dismissed claims of an ongoing staff recruitment for Uganda Airlines whose revival remains in the pipeline.
Ms Monica Azuba Ntege told Daily Monitor the reports that government is silently recruiting top managers for Uganda Airlines as “false and unfounded”.
According to the minister, while there are people interested in working with Uganda Airlines, “we haven’t reached that stage. The restoration plans are still in process.”