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Unease, shock and nerves describe the current mood at Uganda Airlines where a shake-up is currently underway. According to sources, the top hierarchy including the CEO, Cornwell Muleya have been sent packing after a dramatic intervention by my transport minister General Katumba Wamala, on orders from the state house

State owned media has reported that up to 10 of Uganda Airlines top management including the CEO, financial director, head of safety and human resource director have gone on 3 months leave.

But the move, according to a source, is due to allegations of corruption, mismanagement and poor performance within the state-owned entity and will allow for a full investigation into the matter.

A new acting CEO, Captain Steven Wegoye has been appointed to oversee a transition

Both the transport minister and head of Uganda Airlines board have maintained in a response to state owned media that the entire management team has simply taken up their accumulated leave. This at a time when the airline is stepping up preparations for route expansion to Johannesburg and network expansion to long haul destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

Earlier this year, the Uganda auditor general presented a report to the country’s parliament which identified the Airline as the country’s worst performing state-owned entity. The carrier made a loss of UGX.102.4 Billion (US $27.9 Million) in the previous financial year

The Auditor General noted that 10 State enterprises had debt ratios of more than 50%, implying that their total assets were insufficient to cover their total debt. This list included the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) with a gearing ratio 51.17% in the 2018-19 financial year and a ratio of 48.88% in the 2019-20 financial year. Uganda National Airlines Company Limited had a gearing ratio of 2.37% in the 2018-19 financial year and a ratio of 0.48 in the 2019-20 financial year.

But in a media release, the airline denied the existence of any form of debt, saying: “Uganda Airlines is fully capitalised by the shareholders and has no debts on its balance sheet. All the aircraft and other assets were paid for by cash from the shareholders. Uganda Airlines therefore does not have any loans or interest payments to any financier.”

Image: goplacesdigital

South African Airways subsidiary, Mango Airlines has completed a chaotic day of flight disruptions and negotiations over owed debt. The low cost carrier was earlier suspended from operating at airports owned by Airports Company South Africa, due to outstanding debt.

A social media statement from the airline reads:

“Mango Airlines apologises for today’s flight interruptions and delays.

We can confirm that our services and all flights are temporarily suspended for today only, due to outstanding payments to ACSA”

Airline representatives spent the day locked in negotiations with ACSA and evidently found a breakthrough with ACSA later announcing a lifting of the afore-mentioned suspension

An official statement from ACSA reads:

Airports Company South Africa can confirm as reported earlier today that it had suspended Mango Airlines from using its airports due to outstanding debt.

Airports Company South Africa has since lifted the suspension on Mango Airline with immediate effect. This follows negotiations that were entered into earlier between the two entities.

The airline has made part payment today (Wednesday) towards the amount owed to Airports Company South Africa for landing fees, parking fees and passenger service charges.

The airline has made further undertakings to settle the remaining debt. It is under these circumstances that Airports Company South Africa has agreed to lift the suspension on Mango Airline.

The approach of Airports Company South Africa to our business relationship with Mango Airline is consistent with our approach to other airlines based on the terms and conditions entered into contractually, details of which remain confidential.”

ACSA has not disclosed exactly how much is owed by Mango but it is reported that up to 3000 passengers could have been affected by the suspension

Despite being a subsidiary of South African Airways, Mango Airlines has not been under business rescue, but the Airline has been expecting a sum of R2.7 Billion from the R10.5 Billion that was allocated to SAA towards business rescue. However, Mango Airlines has not received the funding from Department of public enterprises and lessors have given the airline an ultimatum which could see the carrier grounded on the 1st of May

The airline is likely to be put under business rescue and has officially made a request that is awaiting approval

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network announcing it will operate three weekly flights to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire via Accra from June 16, 2021. This will become the fourth new destination in Africa announced by Qatar Airways since the onset of the pandemic.

This new service to Abidjan will be operated by the airline’s state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner and will be configured with 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class.

The airline has introduced several new destinations over the past 12 months to its growing route network with some African destinations including flights to Abuja, Accra, Luanda and Kigali flying 4x weekly. The airline also recently announced that it will resume services to Khartoum, Sudan, with four weekly flights starting May 11, 2021.

Even as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to create unprecedented challenges for the aviation industry, Qatar Airways has nevertheless continued to work diligently taking people home safely and reliably with the Doha based carrier priding itself as the airline that never stopped flying throughout the ongoing crisis.

Qatar Airways growing route network currently stands at over 130 destinations with plans to increase to more than 1,200 weekly flight to over 140 destinations by end of July 2021.

The flight for the Abidjan route will be operated on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and scheduled:

Doha (DOH) to Abidjan (ABJ) QR1423 – departs 02:20 arrives 09:10

Abidjan (ABJ) to Doha (DOH) QR1424 – departs: 17:20 arrives 06:10

By Victor Shalton Odhiambo

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