Nigeria has taken significant step in fortifying its air transport collaboration with Uganda as the East African nation introduced a new flight service connecting Entebbe International Airport to Lagos.
Commencing with a schedule of three weekly flights, this air link aims to bolster connectivity and facilitate travel between the two countries.
A crop of Nigerian pilots flew in the aircraft from Entebbe to Lagos.
In order to make the Nigeria-Uganda route more open, and accessible for passengers to and from East and West Africa and beyond, two other cities in Nigeria, Abuja and Kano, have equally been approved as entry points for Uganda Airlines by the Nigerian government under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between both nations in the spirit of Single Africa Air Transport Market.
The launch of flight services to Lagos by Uganda’s national carrier, Uganda Airlines would help to close the gap in the travel needs of travelers from West Africa and East Africa, while equally affording connections between the two regions of the continent to the world.
The flights will be taking place on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays and the flight will take under five hours. A return ticket for Economy class will be US$ 510 and Business class at $1800.
Uganda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Nelson Ocherger expressed joy over the inaugural flight of Uganda Airlines to Lagos, saying the approval by the Nigerian government would open a vista of business opportunities to both nations.
He said, “The importance of air transport underscores the promotion of trade and investment and it gives Africa the opportunity to leverage on all AU agenda. We thank the Nigerian government for the necessary approval needed to do this operation.”
Ocherger disclosed that his country through the Uganda Civil Aviation Academy has entered into a partnership with the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria to train Ugandan pilots, engineers, and other aviation professionals.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar who was represented by Director of Airport Protocol in the Ministry, Ambassador Oludare Folowosele said, “It is ridiculous to go to Europe before connecting two African neighbouring countries. What we are doing today would lead to wealth creation, shortening of travel time from one country to another rather than depend on Europe all the time for flight connections.”
The journey for Uganda Airlines to commence flight services to Nigeria, it would be recalled, started on 9th October 2002 in Kampala, Uganda when the two respective Ministers of both countries responsible for Civil Aviation initiated an Air Services Agreement with the ultimate desire of bringing about a direct flight from Entebbe, Uganda to Lagos, Nigeria.
This was further reviewed on January 21st, 2005 with certain provisions. It was a matter of concern that the ASA was never operationalised until October 19th, 2023 with Uganda utilising the designated airline from her side to commence the flight operations.
Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) who was represented by Director of Air Transport Management in the Ministry, Hassan Ejibunu, stated that aviation remains the best way for Africa to connect her people and promote inter-Africa business in line with Africa’s 2063 Agenda, as championed by the continent’s leaders.
Keyamo said, “Aviation has a huge market that should be explored by indigenous African Airlines, as no other Nations can develop the aviation sector for us, except us, Africans. We need to do this in the interest of our over 1.37 billion people, which is 17.4 per cent of the world’s population. I wish to, therefore, challenge Nigeria’s local airlines to seize the opportunity to start operating regional and continental flights to make SAATM and YD achieve their aims, as envisioned by African leaders.”