National sentiment yesterday took centre stage in Parliament as legislators debated the grounding of Air Uganda operations.
Civil Aviation Authority grounded Air Uganda weeks back following international concerns about the safety of its aircrafts.
Yesterday, Opposition Chief Whip Cecilia Ogwal said Kenya Airways (KQ) had taken aantage of Air Uganda’s misfortune to increase fares.
“Following the grounding of Air Uganda, some Ugandans find it more costly to fly. The cost of a Kenya Airways ticket between Entebbe and Nairobi has shot up from $380 (Shs1 million) to $560 (Shs1.4 million). It is time we revive our airline,” said Ms Ogwal during plenary.
While we could not reach KQ management for a comment, Mr Evarist Kayondo, the managing director of Everbased Tour and Travel Agency, denied the allegations of exploitations, saying the ticket prices are not static and are only increased depending on the demand.
The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, said whenever she was to fly within the East African Community, she would opt for Air Uganda.
“I am one of those who used to fly Air Uganda. It has the crested crane [the bird on Uganda’s flag and the coat of arms] and my nostalgia for something Ugandan,” said Ms Kadaga.
Mr Hilary Onek, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, said grounded airlines “should not use legislators to propagate theories”.
The national Uganda Airlines ceased operations in the mid 1980s because its aircraft were reportedly not airworthy and because of bad management.
Since then, talk about reviving it so that Uganda, like its neighbours Kenya and Rwanda, has a national air service, has been half-hearted.
Ms Ogwal said Ugandan officials who are engaged in peace missions in Somalia and South Sudan are now at the mercy of foreign airlines.
“This is very dangerous. We should be conscious of the security of our country,” she said.
Mr Richard Todwong, the minister without Portfolio in-charge of Political Mobilisation, said the Transport minister, Mr Abraham Byandala, would next week make a statement on the matter before the House.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor