The airline dubbed AirArabia, will have its maiden commercial flight on Sunday with a direct flight from Entebbe International Airport to Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr Ibrahim Abdisalam, an official from AirArabia, said their carrier provides a low cost travel experience to Middle East countries like the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, among others.
“We are doing a prelaunch of AirArabia today (yesterday). We shall start with three weekly flights,” Mr Abdisalam said yesterday in Kampala.
“We want to focus on labour movement, those who travel to the UAE looking for jobs and those going to trade. We shall also be handling cargo from Uganda to Sharjah and vice versa,” he added.
Junior minister for Agriculture Bright Rwamirama said it is important for government to support the aviation industry.
This, he said, is because Uganda is landlocked and depends on the sale of perishable agricultural products that need fast means of transport.
“Uganda is a predominantly an agriculture nation and it is very important that we support the aviation industry. For us, it is good news. Agriculture deals in perishables and our access to sea route is very long,” Mr Rwamirama said.
The Minister of Works, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, in his speech read out by his junior colleague, Mr Fred Byamukama, said with AirArabia providing low cost fares is an opportunity for Ugandans to travel the world more than ever before.
“Air travel used to be for the elites but now with the low cost airlines coming up like AirArabia, Ugandans will be able to travel more often, save money and may also go to destinations that they have not gone to before,” Gen Katumba said.
Mr Denis Oloro, an official from the Uganda Civil Aviation, said the Covid-19 pandemic reduced the international flight operators from 16 to 13.
This, he said, was after three airlines exited the aviation industry like JamboJet, South African airlines, and Precision airline. He added that two more airlines have since joined the market including a South African airline.
Statistics from the Gender ministry show that an average of 12,000 Ugandans leave for the Middle East annually in search of employment. It further shows that the number of Ugandans seeking employment in the Middle East has been growing since 2010, becoming one of the biggest stock of labour opportunities and source of remittance.