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According to recent reports from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Uganda, passenger traffic grew by 7.5 per cent from 1,041,000 to 1,119,000 passengers respectively, in the quarter of the year ended in February 2012.
This is a far better performance compared to the average 3.2 per cent growth of African Carriers that was reported in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) report for the same period.
In an interview with Daily Monitor, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) managing director, Mr Rama Makuza, said that unlike many African countries that saw their passenger traffic decline, Uganda’s continued to grow at above 7 per cent as a result of business enabling conditions.
“Generally, the past quarter was good for our aviation sector with international passenger traffic growing by 7.5 per cent and more airlines venturing into the market.
This was made possible by relative political stability and marketing Uganda as the next tourist destination,” Mr Makuza said, adding: “Airlines should be more compliant to international airworthiness conditions, reliable and available for passengers. African airlines should enter strategic alliances with leading international airlines to become more competitive. Government should also give more financial support and re-think of having a country carrier.”
Air Uganda’s head of sales and marketing, Mrs Jenifer B. Musiime, said that the growing competition in the sector is driving growth as it keeps operators in check, always working to give the best choices to the clients.
She said that the last quarter of the year saw Air Uganda grow by about 70 per cent, increasing its regional flights to more routes and more flying hours. She added; “The increase in the number of operators shows that the market has great potential that airlines should strategically tap in.”
However, Ethiopian airlines country manager, Mrs Ermejechew Regassa, said the increasing number of players has not been duplicated by corresponding growth in the travelers; hence, affecting the market share of different airlines.
“The market is currently challenging with the growing competition brought by new players and expansion of other airlines. This means that each airline needs to find its share within the market. Generally, the sector is growing despite a slight decrease in the number of particular airlines passengers because the growth in the number of carriers is not proportional to that in passengers,” Mrs Regassa said.
The growth is also evidenced by the continued entry of new airlines both regional and international. By the end of 2011, the airlines operating in Uganda were about 21, a number that has since reduced by one in 2012, after Gulf Air suspended its flights to Uganda after only two months of its re-launch.
In the past two years, several carriers such as Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Gulf Airline launched flights in Uganda while Feeder Airline, RwandAir, Kenya Airways, Air Uganda and Precision Air, have all been involved in fleet and route upgrade.
Mr Makuza recommends that African Airlines at all levels need to improve their services to keep in business amidst stringent international standards, stiff competition and economic hardships.
Far still, in the IATA quarterly report, Mr Tony Tyler, the association’s CEO said that amidst its global importance, the Aviation sector is still reeeling from harsh aviation policies.
“We see ill-conceived policy initiatives that over-regulate, excessively tax or otherwise restrain the aviation industry. This prevents it (aviation) from being the catalyst for economic growth that it can be,” Tyler said.
By Flavia Lanyero : The Monitor Newspaper Uganda.
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