BA suspends Heathrow-Entebbe direct flights
British Airways (BA) has announced it will stop direct flights to Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport from London’s Heathrow Airport, at the beginning of October, according to a statement issued by the British airline.
A statement signed by Edward Frost the Airline’s regional manager for East Africa, said, they had had to make a difficult decision to stop the flights because they route was not “commercially viable.” BA currently operates four direct flights a week to Entebbe, up from one flight when it re-established the route in 1991.
The Airline said it had suspended flights to Entebbe following a review that showed the Entebbe route had consistently failed to reach its targets. “I assure you that this (the suspension) in no way reflects the performance and commitment of our local staff in Uganda,” Frost said in the statement. This can only mean that BA’s only route to Uganda was underperforming.
The statement did not indicate since when the route stopped being “commercially viable.” It also did not state why rather than reduce the number of flights a week; it was suspending all flights all together.
Uganda is a British colony as such Uganda maintains a lot of cultural, economic and political ties with Britain. Many Ugandans live and work in Britain. Before the suspension BA had four flights a week from Heathrow-to Entebbe.
Commentators say the fact that BA route to Entebbe, easily one of Uganda’s most significant links to Europe, is not doing well is a pointer to how badly Uganda’s economy is performing. “It means we are not exporting anything substantial to Britain- and probably to other destinations in Europe,” an Economist told this magazine.
Tourism is one of Uganda’s fastest growing exports. Hitherto only two European Airlines have direct flights to Entebbe. The other is The Dutch KLM. Of the two, BA has more historical, cultural and political reasons to do business and therefore to fly to Uganda.
The departure of BA will increasingly leave Entebbe as a predominantly Middle Eastern Airline destination. The big Arab airlines that have direct flights to Entebbe include: Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airlines, and Turkish Airlines. African Airlines that fly to Entebbe include Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways, South African Airways.