In a dramatic revelation, Uganda Airlines, in its quest to conquer the skies, has declared an audacious plan to double its crew numbers, painting a vivid picture of an airline on the brink of a transformative journey amidst turbulent flight delays and logistical challenges.
The airline’s Director of Flight Operations, Mr. David Kaweesa, delivered the bombshell during a press briefing in the opulent setting of Munyonyo, Kampala.
With a flair for the theatrical, he declared that the current crew strength, consisting of a mere 13 pairs of first officers and 13 pairs of captains, is woefully inadequate for the airline’s ambitious expansion plans.
“To achieve the lofty heights of our flight and revenue targets, we must embark on a mission to boost our crew numbers to at least 24 pairs of captains and 24 pairs of first officers,” proclaimed Mr. Kaweesa with an air of urgency that resonated through the briefing room.
The airline, unveiling its cards on the table, confessed to scaling back on flight numbers for crucial routes such as Nairobi and Juba, reducing the daily flights from three to a mere two. The CEO, Ms. Jenifer Bamuturaki, added a layer of intrigue, hinting that these reductions were strategic measures to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
“We must work within existing regulations. We cannot overwork our dedicated crew members,” she declared, emphasizing the need for sufficient captains and first officers to facilitate the addition of new routes.
However, the airline’s tumultuous journey doesn’t end with scaled-back flights. Ms. Bamuturaki dropped a bombshell revelation, disclosing past instances of postponed or canceled flights, particularly during peak periods like last December. The reason? A desperate attempt to maintain safe operating margins for crew rest periods.
“While we had the aircraft, we did not have pilots. Sacrificing schedules became imperative to avoid bursting safety margins with the available crew roster, resulting in flight delays or postponements,” she confessed, leaving the audience in a state of shock.
Dismissive of reports alleging crew overwork, Mr. Kaweesa vehemently defended the airline’s practices, citing stringent regulatory requirements and internal controls that prohibit crew members from working beyond five consecutive days.
To address the dire shortfall in crew numbers, Uganda Airlines announced a recruitment drive for first captains. Mr. Kaweesa, however, painted a grim picture of the challenges faced, revealing that out of 67 applicants, only four emerged successful.
“It’s not easy to get captains when there are many airlines competing for a scarce resource. In filling that gap, our interviewing process has to be thorough,” he explained, hinting at the cutthroat competition for skilled pilots.
Despite the turbulent skies, Uganda Airlines remains resolute in its ambitions. The airline, having previously expressed intentions to launch new routes, now acknowledges the setbacks caused by a lack of sufficient personnel, leading to delays in scheduled expansions into London, Guangzhou, Jeddah, Riyadh, Abuja, and Lusaka.
Amidst the storm, there’s a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered airline. With aspirations to receive a whopping Shs120 billion in the upcoming financial year, Uganda Airlines sees this financial infusion as the lifeline crucial to attaining revenue targets and bolstering its competitive edge.
The stage is set, and the airline braces itself for a turbulent but potentially transformative journey into the realm of expanded routes and heightened ambitions.
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