Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Cornwell Muleya said the arrival of the Airbus A330-800neo in December will see the flag carrier embark on building its international long-haul network.
In 2018, Uganda Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding for two A330-800neo, the new version of the A330, a medium-to-long-range wide-body twin-engine jet airliner made by Airbus.
This past Friday Airbus announced that the painting works on the aircraft had been completed.
According to Muleya, most of the payments for acquiring the airbus have been made, with the remaining portion to be paid on arrival.
"All the aircraft are bought by the shareholders... essentially we have not leased anything, they belong to the company and nd they are part of the long-term assets that will be used to develop the carrier,” he said during an interview with NTV Uganda.
"The way the structure works is you pay a deposit when you sign a purchase agreement, and progressively you pay what is called pre-delivery payments, which are payments you have to place to the manufacturer as they continue to assemble to aircraft. We have paid all the pre-delivery payments, we are now just waiting for the last payment when we receive the aircraft in December."
According to aircraftcompare.com, the A330neo variant was retailing for $259.9 million in 2018, it has a range of 8,150 nautical miles, and can seat up to 406 passengers. It also features one of the shortest runway requirements among all the new generation aircraft that makes it the best fit for smaller airlines at smaller airports.
The two airplanes will be used to expand the route network as Uganda Airlines eyes serving 20 destinations by end of 2021.
"It's going to be used on... intercontinental routes... we have three principal flights that we're going to make on these aircraft; the first route is to go to London... the second one is to go to Dubai... and the third option is to go to Guangzhou in China... this is where the majority of traffic out of Uganda goes and this is why these specific routes were chosen," Muleya said.
"In between, we'll be looking at Mumbai... routes across to West Africa and Southern Africa to complete the inter-connections and all this is targeted to both business tourism, the trade sector as well as the export sector."
The fleet is already comprised of four Bombardier CRJ900 planes, which fly to the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Juba, Bujumbura, and Mogadishu.
Asked on how the Covid-19 pandemic affected their operations, the chief executive said the impact wasn’t really damaging since they are still in the startup phase.
"What has played well for us is we are still in the startup phase so during that we had capital... we were opening routes and we halted. Obviously, by stopping to fly, we were saving a bit of the capital that we had to deploy to open the routes and now that the markets are opening we are beginning to put the program together," he said.