Uganda Airlines, on Thursday October 19, 2023, made history with its first ever direct flight from Entebbe International Airport to Lagos, Nigeria, landing at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
Lagos becomes Uganda Airlines’ thirteenth (13th) destination. This new direct route is expected to open up more trade and investment opportunities between Uganda and Nigeria.
There were extraordinary scenes as the Uganda Airlines team led by Captain Isaac Ogoyi skillfully navigated the skies on the national career’s inaugural flight. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with Uganda Airlines on this milestone. Uganda Airlines hailed UNDP team for their dedication to enabling trade, investment and tourism in Uganda.
Uganda Airlines CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki says the aim is to open more routes on the continent to enhance efficiency, and expediting transit of both passengers and commodities every Sunday, Monday and Thursday. This development comes after the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August.
She highlighted the impact of this air brigade not only in Nigeria but across Africa, “Our Entebbe-Lagos flight is the gateway to immense opportunities. It connects Uganda and Nigeria through business, tourism, culture, entertainment and more.”
UNDP Uganda Resident Representative Elsie Attafuah expressed her excitement at the milestone saying, “This is an exciting opportunity for us to connect more within the continent and create more opportunities for trade. This is an airbridge for trade, for jobs, for wealth creation, and for ensuring Africa takes its rightful place in the global world.”
The decision to introduce a direct flight from Entebbe to Lagos comes as Uganda Airlines strives to expand its network and increase connectivity within Africa. With the new route, travelers will now have easy access to one of Africa’s most populous and vibrant cities.
Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) has applauded Uganda Airlines CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki and her team for the initiative. “This new direct route to Nigeria has significant implications for promoting exports and enhancing trade relations between the two countries. The new route offers immense opportunities for Ugandan businesses to expand their export activities into one of Africa’s largest economies.” Noted Rwabwogo.
He further notes that Ugandan products, such as agricultural commodities, textiles, handicrafts, and processed foods, have a competitive advantage in terms of quality and uniqueness. “With the direct connection, these goods can now reach Nigerian consumers and businesses more quickly and reliably. This increased accessibility will raise the profile of Ugandan exports in Nigeria and pave the way for stronger bilateral trade ties.”
H.E. Ismael Ayobami Alatis, Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda has encouraged Ugandans to visit Nigeria and take advantage of the incredible market potential that is there.
The move reinforces Uganda Airlines’ commitment to becoming a leading carrier in the region. Since its relaunch in 2019, the airline has steadily expanded its network and upgraded its fleet, which now includes two brand new Airbus A330neo aircraft. The addition of the Lagos route is another milestone in its ambitious growth plans.
The launch of the direct flight comes at a time when African nations are seeking to boost intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The AfCFTA aims to create a single market for goods and services across the continent, fostering economic integration and enabling African countries to trade among themselves more easily.
The direct flight will also provide a convenient connection for passengers traveling from other parts of the world. With Entebbe International Airport serving as a regional hub, passengers from Europe, the Americas, and Asia can now easily reach Lagos with a seamless transfer in Uganda. This will undoubtedly boost Uganda’s standing in the global aviation industry and further enhance its reputation as a gateway to Africa.
Uganda Airlines will operate flights to Nigeria three times a week with flights on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays, using its 258-seat state-of-the-art Airbus A330-800neo.