Jenifer Bamuturaki, CEO of Uganda Airlines. PHOTO/COURTESY

Negative publicity fuelled by the recent corruption allegations in the management of Uganda Airlines is hurting the image of the national carrier, the acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki, has said.

The national carrier has been making headlines for the wrong reasons since April 2021 when Works minister Gen Katumba Wamala sent the company’s top management and board on “forced leave” pending investigations into allegations of corruption, mismanagement, political interference, including influence peddling in hiring of staff connected to regime power brokers.

And now, according to Bamuturaki, the issue has been blowing out of proportion, which is painting a negative image on the national carrier.

“Most people do not understand the aviation industry but they keep talking about how the airline is collapsing,” she said.

She added: “The media has also fallen prey. How can you say the aircraft run out of fuel?” 

Bamuturaki was referring to the July incident at Dar as Salaam airport when the airline delayed its flight to Entebbe because the supplier had not delivered fuel in time.

She, however, downplayed the impact of the negative publicity, saying most passengers believe in the airline and they are not moved by what is said in the media.

She was speaking at an event organized by the Rotary E-club of Uganda Global on Sunday.

Bamuturaki also revealed that Uganda Airlines is set to start commercial flights to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and London three months after the two countries suspended airline travel from Entebbe over surging coronavirus cases.

She said they will start flights to Dubai in September while those in London will resume on November.

Ms Bamuturaki said that they are waiting for the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to approve the two A330-800Neo Airbuses and include them on the Air Operators Certificate (AOC). Bamuturaki also said that the London flights would start in November this year. The UK also red-listed Uganda last month over surging COVID-19 cases. The airline had expected to operate its first London flight in September.

Bamuturaki added that the airline is also planning to launch other regional and international routes such as Mumbai, Guangzhou, Lagos and Kisangani by 2023.

However, ahead of the launch, she says the airline is engaging airlines such as Emirates, Qatar and KLM to sign interline traffic agreements.