Home » Aviation: East African carrier, Uganda Airlines secures coveted Heathrow landing slot

Aviation: East African carrier, Uganda Airlines secures coveted Heathrow landing slot

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uganda A330neo

East African carrier, Uganda Airlines has secured a major landing slot at the Heathrow Airport in London, a move which will serve as a boost to the carriers operation in the eastern African region.

The slot acquisition is nearly the same as the one its east African neighbour, Kenya Airways sold to Oman Air in 2016.

According to simpleflying.com, the slot comes into effect from the start of the summer season on March 28th, but the airline is yet to receive certification for its new Airbus A330-800neo.

Also businessdailyafrica.com, reports that the airlines’ acquisition of the slot sets the stage for competition with other regional carriers as it eyes a lucrative business travellers to Europe.

The carrier has announced it will be landing at Heathrow 6am and depart to Entebbe at 9am coming as a boost to the airline given that a lot of travellers to London, especially the business people who prefer the morning flight to London to enable them finish their business engagement and return by evening.

Kenya Airways sold off the morning landing slot at London’s Heathrow nearly five years ago for an estimated Sh7.5 billion($75 million) in a move aviation experts argued significantly affected the airline’s attractiveness to passengers on the UK route. The carrier at the moment flies in the afternoon on this route.

Uganda Airlines, which has been in operation for hardly two years, has puzzled aviation pundits on how it was able to secure the most coveted landing slot in Heathrow, which is considered one of the most expensive airports in the world.

KQ’s sale of its coveted 5.30am arrival slot was the highest priced deal to have taken place at Heathrow as at 2016, beating the previous Sh6 billion ($60 million) record payment that American Airlines made to Scandinavian carrier SAS a year ago.

Slots at Heathrow lose value as the day progresses, with early morning arrivals fetching the highest value. The value of slots drops by 30 percent by midday and by 50 percent by evening, according to an earlier report by Heathrow Airport Holdings.

With fully operational flights both within and outside Africa, Uganda carrier has heightened competition in the region’s aviation industry with the announcement of flights to Dubai, Guangzhou and Mumbai, the routes that are currently serviced by Kenya Airways and RwandAir.

These are some of the popular routes by travellers from Africa and the move by the Uganda Airlines to start flying to these destinations means it will eat into KQ’s market share, considering that Kampala is one of the profitable routes for the carrier.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has been a major regional hub and passengers from Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have been connecting through KQ to countries such as Dubai, London and China. However, with this morning flight to Heathrow, KQ will lose some of its passengers who used to connect from JKIA.

Last month, Uganda received its second Airbus A330neo aircraft, bringing the total fleet to six as the national carrier continues with revival efforts.

Furthermore, the acquisition opens up a wide range of opportunities for the carrier.

Opportunity
For Uganda Airlines, the A330neo is a chance to expand beyond Africa and become a major international airline. In addition to London, the carrier plans to launch flights to Dubai and has secured rights for six weekly flights. While demand will dictate the final schedule for the short term, the airline has its eye on more locations.

The next destinations for the airline will be Mumbai, India, and Guangzhou, China, another popular hub route. This has been an ambitious rise for the airline which is yet to turn even two years old. It currently operates nine regional routes using CRJ900ERs and will add two routes Johannesburg and Lusaka soon.

With the first flights planned for May, keep an eye out for this rising African carrier in the skies. Currently, the airline only has two A330neos on order but it could add more widebodies in the future if it sees a growing demand. Considering the untapped potential of African aviation, we could see this airline expand quickly.

 

 

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