By: Ismael Kasooha
The Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja has revealed that the government will upgrade 6 Aerodromes in the country next financial year.
“The president has instructed us to ensure that all Aerodromes in the country are upgraded but beginning with at least 6 next financial year,” said Nabbanja.
Nabbanja was Thursday officially opening a three-day Uganda Aviation Expo at Entebbe International Airport.
The Expo ran under the theme ‘Come and Learn about Aviation’, and the expo ended on June24, 2023.
Nabbanja said that the government was moving in to upgrade the Aerodromes as one way of boosting the tourism sector in the country and also reduce time lost on road.
“The president wants the country to gain more from tourism and he believes that promoting air transport will help in attracting more tourists and even air transport is safe, convenient and also reliable,” said Nabbanja.
She appealed to Ugandans to embrace air transport to reduce on time spent on road and even the challenges encountered on roads.
Nabbanja asked Ugandans to take part in such expos to learn about the career & business opportunities in the aviation industry.
According to the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority Director General, Fred Bamwesigye, the airshow came at a time when the aviation industry is slowly recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In April 2023, Entebbe International Airport recorded 127,282 passengers including 62,413 arrivals and 64,870 departures, an average of 4,242 per day compared to 122,341 in the same period in 2022, an average of 4,078 per day.
Bamwesigye, provided a comprehensive update on the progress of the Entebbe International Airport upgrade.
Bamwesigye further highlighted that several technical staff members such as Air Traffic Controllers and Aeronautical Information Service providers, actively participated as exhibitors in the expo.
“Their involvement aims to inform the public about their roles and responsibilities while also providing valuable career guidance to inspire young individuals. This showcases the vast range of professions within the aviation industry beyond just pilot training,” he said.
The expo was organized by the Uganda Professional Pilots Association (UPPA) in partnership with Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA).
The expo featured various components including opportunities for students and the general public to get more information about career guidance in relation to aviation industry, aerobatics, static aircraft exhibitions providing opportunities to the public to enter aircraft and view the cockpit, talk to cabin and flight crew and get deeper-firsthand knowledge of air transport operations.
“The aviation expo had an exciting bit where some members of the public were given a chance to fly for the first time on payment of a modest fee, and these were flown around Kampala for around 30-40 minutes,” Bamwesigye said.
He explained that UCAA had supported UPPA in holding the aviation expo “because it is a good opportunity to further demystify the seemingly complex aviation industry and encourage the public to use air transport services.”
According to Bamwesigye, this wasn’t the first time the aviation industry was hosting such an exciting event.
In 2012 as Uganda celebrated her 50th Independence Anniversary, a massive airshow was held under the theme; ‘Fly@50 for 50k’.
“The flying cost was low because UCAA had fully sponsored the Air Show and the objective was to give the flying public an opportunity to fly. About 2,100 people had a chance to fly,” he said, adding that this time round, the event isn’t fully sponsored hence the rationale for entry and flying fees to enable UPPA deliver a good product.
Further, UCAA held mini airshows at Mbarara Airfield in 2005 and Kajjansi Airfield, earlier on.
“The public response has been massive at all previous such events, and the plan is to continue holding the events at different Airfields across the country, in future, putting into consideration other logistical requirements,” he said.
He revealed that the upcoming airshow would be spiced up with entertainment to keep the public engaged.
According to Capt. Aziz Ssentamu, the president of the Uganda Professional Pilots Association, the June 22- 24 expo allowed students and members of the public to get information about the happenings in the aviation sector.
“Government has invested heavily in industry but the lay person is green about what is happening. We thought it would be important to sensitize the public about what happens and in case if you want to join, you know what to do. People are green about the aviation industry and what happens there but this is an opportunity to even get information on how to join aviation,” said Ssentamu.
He said whereas there are many opportunities in the aviation industry, piloting was what was mostly mentioned but said the expo was another opportunity for everyone, including students to know they can choose various careers in aviation apart from being pilots.