If Uganda Airlines commences self-handling in a phased rollout, the move will save the national airline billions of shillings it has been paying to Ground handling companies at Entebbe Airport.
Currently, DAS Company does ground handling for Uganda Airlines, but its contract will soon come to an end, according to sources. Experts advise Uganda Airlines to do its ground handling to stop the new airline from bleeding.
In the Business Implementation Plan, Uganda Airlines will start with the Ramp activities (Ramp, Loading, Baggage etc) and the second phase will see the national carrier take on the full operation with Passenger handling activities. The main purpose is to save costs (paid to the Ground Handling companies) and increase the company’s revenue base.
“In the third phase, the Airline will embark on third party handling, by attracting business from other airlines operating at Entebbe International Airport,” an inside source told this website.
Presently, the source reveals that the national carrier spends approximately US$900,000 (about Shs3.19bn)annually in handling charges and equipment hire for the CRJ fleet.
“With the expected A330 -800 neo entry into service, and the proposed weekly flights to Dubai and London Heathrow, the costs would almost triple the CRJ cost (about Shs9.57bn). This amount once saved, through self-handling will eventually be re-invested into the company’s other projects like Third party handling, A Business Lounge and Training through provision of internationally accredited courses as well as customer product development products,” a highly placed source revealed.
On whether terminating DAS contract won’t raise litigation issues, the source said the current contract with the current Handler is set to expire on 31st August, 2021.
“So, there’s no termination nor litigation, rather, an engagement between the two parties for on training of our recruited staff or if need arises, and besides we are partners in the aviation business so we will work together in the phased approaches ( they will continue to handle our Passenger activities as we take on the Ramp) the source said.
It’s also understood that the current handler has a one-year contract and it was awarded in view of starting self-handling.
“This position (self-handling) was shared with our handler who in turn pledged support to Uganda Airlines project through on job training of the recruited staff and a phased cut over process.
Ready To Kick-start
Credible sources say Uganda Airlines has already purchased an assortment of equipment (now in storage) to handle both Aircraft types, having arrived as far back as March 2021, and the Organization is currently undergoing a shortlisting process for skilled manpower that will join the Airline for the self handling process.
“The recruitment was commenced in early 2020 but was delayed due to the global lockdown following the covid-19 pandemic,” a source said, adding that they are confident that once they have the skilled manpower on board, the Airline should commence the project in time with the planned start dates.
This project is expected to contribute to the individual development of the staff with employment base being increased and renumerations will have a positive ripple effect to many households.
“The recruitment process will see over 162 individuals in the first phase and as the Airline moves to third party handling, our numbers will grow by 30% to manage and handle these operations,” the source said.
Uganda Airlines joins other successful airlines embracing self ground handling. Some of the notable airlines doing own self handling include Emirates, KLM, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), Lufthansa, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways and RwandAir.
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