Come November (2017), Ugandan skies will be graced with yet another locally owned airline. Vule Airline, part owned by Ugandans and part by foreign investors was recently launched in Kampala.
A press release issued by the directors said the new airline will be operated as a budget airline, first building the regional routes, and (then) embarking on the international routes, evolving …”from a domestic and regional airline into a domestic and long haul airline covering all the continents of the world.”
But given the high mortality rate of local Ugandan airlines, only time will tell if Vule Airline, named after the famous Ugandan hardwood tree, Mvule, will break the jinx afflicting local Ugandan airlines. It will be a matter of months before the Uganda air-travelling public will confirm if Vule will be Mahogany- “ whose timber is famous for its strength and beauty,” as its directors promise.
In the past, there have several attempts at local private airlines. In the last two decades about 10 airlines have been founded and collapsed in Uganda. The most recent victim was Air Uganda (2007-2014), run by the Agha Khan Fund for Economic Development. Before Air Uganda other attempts at running local airlines include: Africa One (2000-2004), Alliance Air (1995-2000), East African Airways (2002-2007), Royal Daisy Airlines (2005-2010), Victoria International Airlines (2006-2007).
The owners of Vule seem to be acutely aware of the murky waters they are jumping into. “Only through intrigue-free business co-operation within the airline industry, can a successful airline be established and thrive. The establishment of Vule Airlines is meant to change the mind-set deeply rooted in the travelling public of the East African region that no Ugandan managed airline can thrive in the air transport industry,” they said in a statement.
Founded only in March 201, the airline’s major hub will be Entebbe International Airport, with other hubs planned for Stansted and Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, Brussels in Belgium, and Tel Aviv in Israel, according to the management.
For the start, Vule will operate six aircrafts flying to 20 destinations in the region and other destinations in within Africa and to Europe and Asia.
“Although it is not part of any of the major alliances such as Star Alliance or Skyteam, the airline is negotiating codeshare agreements with major airlines in those alliances. By the end of the first 12 months, Vule Airways anticipates its fleet to have grown from the initial six aircrafts to 12 in order to cover all the continents of the globe,” the release stated.
The planned fleet comprises of one De Havilland DHC -8-200; one De Havilland DHC-8-400; three Boeing B737-700NG; one Boeing B777-200ER.
The directors of the new airlines have been named as: Robert Mwesigwa Nviiri, a Ugandan soviet trained aeronautical engineer who previously worked with the (East African Community ) Civil Aviation Safety & Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA) and before that, with the East African Airlines. Nviiri is the chairman and managing director. The others are Fred Keays (UK), Adam Hirschfied (UK), Raj Gunesssing (UK).
The Uganda based board members are: Retired Justice Lamech Mukasa, Fixon Akonya Okonye an employee of the Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development, Dr. Jonas Y. Kyazze, a former senior official with UNESCO, Princess Anne M. Wampamba and Perpetua K. Biraro.