International passenger traffic through Entebbe International Airport continues to rise. In August 2023, the Airport recorded 93,560 arriving and 97,947 departing passengers, making a total of 191,507 passengers. This is an average of 6,177 passengers per day, which according to the Minister of State for Transport, Fred Byamukama is the highest figure to be ever recorded in a single month in the history of the airport.
The August 2023 international passenger traffic reflects 38,048 passengers more than what was recorded in the same month of August 2022, and 6,254 more than was recorded in the previous month of July 2023.
“This is a sign of progress and steady recovery of Uganda’s aviation sector from the adverse effects of COVID-19. In 2019, prior to COVID-19, the airport used to handle an average of 5,000 passengers per day.” said Byamukama.
A total of 1,219,189 international passengers were handled during the period between January to August 2023 compared to 1,012,862 international passengers in the same period of January to August 2022 and 1,166,796 international passengers in January to August 2019, before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The January to August 2023 international passenger traffic figures reflect a growth of 20.37%.
In relation to cargo, the airport handled 3,669 metric tonnes of exports and 1,705 metric tonnes of imports in August 2023, a total of 5,374 metric tonnes. In the period between January to August 2023, Entebbe International Airport handled a total of 26,822 metric tonnes of exports compared to 27,905 metric tonnes in the same period of January to August 2022, 26,118 metric tonnes in January to August 2021, 23,436 metric tonnes in January to August 2020 and 28,971 metric tonnes of exports in January to August 2019.
“The recovery rate for exports from pre-covid times stands at 92.58%.”
In terms of imports, Entebbe International Airport handled 10,726 metric tons from January to August 2023 compared to 13,923 in 2022, 16,790 in 2021, 14,053 in 2020 and 13,831 in 2019. The recovery rate for imports is 77.5%.
ICAO Safety Audit
Uganda has been undergoing a Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA), an on-site audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) from September 6 -18, 2023.
ICAO is a specialized United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of the uniform development and growth of civil aviation among the 193 Contracting Member States.
The international audit was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of Uganda’s safety oversight systems in compliance with the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.
At the closing meeting of the audit held on September 18, 2023, ICAO’s Lead Auditor issued the preliminary results for Uganda with a score of 72.17%. The results indicated an overall improvement in the safety performance of the state of Uganda, ranking the state above the regional/Eastern and Southern Africa region average of 55.66% and global average of 67.68%.
According to Byamukama, the 72.1% score is a vote of confidence in Uganda’s aviation sector.
“The audit score is a vote of confidence in Uganda’s aviation safety system, which shows the entire international Aviation community that the country complies with ICAO standards,” he said.
The 72.17% score was reached at after an assessment of Uganda’s effective implementation of the eight critical elements of the State Safety Oversight System as well as the status of compliance with the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices in the eight audit areas, which included Primary Legislation, Organization, Personnel Licensing, Flight Operations, Airworthiness, Aircraft Accident Investigation, Air Navigation Services, and Aerodrome and Ground Aids.
Certification Of Entebbe Airport
Uganda Airlines secured slots for departures and landing at London Heathrow Airport after receiving its two Airbus A330-800 Neo aircrafts in December 2020 and February 2021.
However, the national carrier has not made any trips to the UK.
There have been reports that the delay of Uganda Airlines to fly to the United Kingdom and ultimately the European Region who are governed by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority and European Aviation Safety Agency respectively, was caused by the outdated certification status.
It was reported that this delay was based on the delayed resolution of issues raised by the last ICAO audit in 2014 such as legislation, organisation, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation services and aerodromes.
Some reports indicated that the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) failed to update its certification from the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).
In response, Minister Byamukama refuted the reports saying that they hold no water.
“I also take this opportunity to inform the public that Entebbe International Airport is certified. The audit team appreciated the good work done by the regulator in the Certification process of Entebbe International Airport and re-certification of Uganda Airlines, among others,” he said.