In November 2022, Uganda Airlines launched a $3million project to provide self-handling services at Entebbe International Airport.
Since inception in 2019, the national carrier was outsourcing services handling services from DAS handling, a private air cargo handler at a fee determined by the weight and volume of cargo handled.
While touring the operations with media on Thursday, February 2, 2023, Uganda Airlines Head of Corporate Affairs and PR Shakila Rahim Lamar revealed that the project has created 200 jobs since its launch.
“This means that we are able to handle our passengers through check-in, we are able to handle the security of our passengers, their baggage, groom our aircraft (clean the aircraft), carry out ramp services, among other services,” she told journalists.
She further revealed that the project will cut the airlines’ operational costs by 60%.
Lamar noted that in the next two to three years, the Airline intends to extend the service to other Airlines.
“We will be able to do some of these things that we were not able to do. We will be able to save some money and invest in other things. In two or three years, it means we can also handle other airlines and this self-handling saves money in a way that all the flights start from Entebbe, our hub. We are able to handle all the flights going to the 11 destinations,” she said.
She added that self-handling is the right direction for the airline therefore the grooming, handling of the aircraft all starts here, because we there are transiting passengers also (from Juba, Bujumbura, Kinsasha – going to Dubai) returning to their countries of origin.
Lamar further said the airline is now looking into developing its cargo operations.
“That’s why we are ordering two freighters – long haul and short haul to carry cargo regionally and globally. Because we now think that the next gold is in cargo. During COVId-19 (induced lockdowns), so many airlines turned their aircraft for carrying cargo. That is where we want to go as an airline.”
According to the project Team Lead and Duty manager, Derrick Ouma, they need a little more equipment to push what they already have.
“The processes have already begun. So, where there are gaps, those can be addressed, especially manpower gaps but in terms of training, we are already there in terms of the training and skilling that the airline has given the team. We are already working on an approved training organization,” Ouma said.
He added, “A lot of the staff are actually trainers. So, all we need is a few approvals with CAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority) and we can start conducting our own in-house training.