Africa: Ugandan Aviation school to sue Civil Aviation $1.5m for lack of AOC

The Board Chairman of Uganda Aviation School Capt. George Mike Mukula, has expressed his disappointment in Civil Aviation Authority [CAA] for allegedly blocking investment in the sector.
Private investment in the Aviation Sector in Uganda is failing to pick up because of the inadequacies and complacency culture that have riddled the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) at all levels, Mukula said in a statement.

“Today, on behalf of the many frustrated players in the Industry, the case of Uganda Aviation School (UAS) is being presented as one of those that have been frustrated by the Authority,” he noted.

Since its incorporation in 2013, Uganda Aviation School (UAS) under the auspices of the National Council for Higher Education has made consecutive communications to CAA in pursuit of joint certification, with no response.

UAS has also written to CAA to acquire Air Operating Certificates that permit the school to conduct ground and air training for its students using 2 aircrafts that have now been grounded at Entebbe Airport for the last 2 years, but received limited cooperation.

“Many other players are facing similar frustrations. We as the pioneers in Private Aviation Training are now bringing this to light and we intend to expose all the unfair treatment and operating barriers that we have faced at the hands of the Directorate of Air and Regulatory Services at CAA,” Mukula pointed out.

He said CAA does not recognize the efforts made by indigenous investors in the Aviation Sector.
This renders the Industry redundant to Ugandan Nationals and a clear gate way for alternative investment destinations for foreign investors that get frustrated with the bureaucratic barriers created by the Authority.

Unlike other Regional regulators like Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, which has a clear schedule of periods to approve license applications by Aviation Operators, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority does not value transparency and therefore operates on elastic deadlines for such applications, Mukula revealed.

“This is irregular and a disincentive to investors and operators in this sector; since applications take more than 2 years to even be reviewed.”

He accused Civil Aviation Authority of intentionally creating loses for Aviators through continued levying of ground rent for aircrafts that have been acquired by Intuitions such as UAS and are waiting for issuance of the Air Operating Certificates (AOCs) by the same CAA.

“We have incurred losses of up to USD 1.5m over the last 30 months; paid to CAA to cover such costs and maintenance fees of our 2 Aircrafts parked at Entebbe. We intend to seek redress through the Commercial Courts.”

Civil Aviation Authority has questionable competence in handling Aviation regulatory matters, he noted, adding that his is clearly illustrated by the numerous anomalies in the sector such as Uganda Air Cargo’s lack of an AOC over the last two years.

“This is a direct loss of income for the Government, since the Air Cargo aircrafts cannot fly. The bias and selective approval of routes for other airlines against our very own companies, proves the unethical approach by CAA.”

Mukula vowed to pursue the matter at all levels, including, Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
“We are petitioning the Speaker of Parliament in a short while to invoke the given to Parliamentary committees under Article 90 of the Constitution; to play their over sight role and enquire into the operations of CAA that are impeding growth in the Aviation Sector.”

He added: “We also intend to direct our concerns to the Office of the President and ask for His executive involvement in the operations of CAA; especially at this point in time when Government is seriously working on revamping Uganda Airlines.”

Mukula reiterated the he intends to seek redress through the Courts of Law against CAA to recover losses so far incurred in pursuit of the AOC and other licenses required for operation.
“I would like to encourage other operators suffering because of the same evils at CAA to also speak out, be heard and together, we can redeem the once glorious Aviation Industry in Uganda.”

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