Members of the press,
Ladies and gentlemen.
It is a pleasure for me to join you this morning to share with you an update on developments in Uganda’s aviation industry.
I am pleased to mention that Entebbe International Airport recorded a total of 842,429 international passengers (413,223 arrivals and 429,206 departures) in the first part of the year (January to June 2023). This reflects 134,679 more passengers than was registered in the same period of January to June 2022 which recorded a total of 707,750 international passengers (326,384 arrivals and 381,366 departures). The January to June 2023 traffic is also higher than that recorded before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the same period of January to June 2019, which registered 836,472 international passengers (405,458 arrivals and 431,014 departures).
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimated full recovery of Africa’s aviation industry from the adverse effects of COVID-19 to take place in 2024. Going by the half year performance, Uganda may attain this by the end of this year. The increase in traffic is partly attributed to relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions across the globe, tourism promotion initiatives, coming on board of the national airline and attraction of more air operators to Uganda’s airspace through liberalization of air transport services, among others.
I will share with you a table that highlights comparative details of Jan-June statistics over three different years.
The project for upgrade and expansion of Entebbe International Airport is also moving on smoothly and is at 85% level of completion, overall. Several sub components of the project have been completed, including srengthening and rehabilitation of runways 12/30 and 17/35 and the associated taxiways. Aircraft Apron 4, 2 and 5 were also completed. The only pending works are on expansion of Apron 1, whose works are on-going and construction of a new 20,000 square meters passenger terminal building, which is at 40% level of completion. It will connect to the current terminal building. On completion of all the works by July 2024, Entebbe International Airport’s terminal capacity will be enhanced from the current 2 million passengers a year to at least 3.5 million passengers per year. We also have a separate project for expansion of the current terminal building, which is nearing completion. The departure area is already in use, and soon a canopy to the terminal will be completed by September 2023 so that passengers are dropped-off by the terminal so as to simply move from the car to the terminal.
A number of upcoming events are lined up. Uganda is scheduled to undergo a Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA) to be conducted by ICAO in September 2023. It will later on be followed by the Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) in 2024. The USOAP – CMA Audit is undertaken to measure the level of compliance of a State in respect to the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and associated procedures and guidance material. It is worth noting that the last safety audit was done in 2014 and the State scored above the then global average of 60%. The most recent ICAO audit on Uganda was the USAP audit conducted in 2017 in which the State scored 81.8%, which was well above the then global average of 72%.
Some recent media reports have unfortunately mixed-up the safety audit by ICAO with Certification of Entebbe International Airport, which is different and is internally done by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) on behalf of the state, not ICAO. The State, represented by UCAA is mandated to notify ICAO in case of non-compliance to specific standards through a Compliance Checklist (CC) /Electronic Filing of Differences (EFOD). This has not been done, given that Uganda fully complies with the standards, and has published a Regulatory Framework indicating compliance with the standards. The Certification of the airport is being done in line with the Regulatory Framework, as a planned activity, and we are on course to have the process concluded in time.
It is also important to note that the on-going certification of Entebbe International Airport has nothing to do with any airline flying in and out of Entebbe International Airport, and that is why there are currently 16 reputable international airlines flying to Uganda. I take this opportunity to urge you all to be patriotic and endeavor not to misrepresent technical issues that impact the image of the country.
Another inaccurate report referred to the runway and insinuated a poor record by simply citing two incidents; a Rwanda Airplane that skidded off the runway in April 2022 and an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft that overshot the runway in January 2019. To put the record straight, comprehensive investigation of both incidents was done, and recommendations provided to the concerned stakeholders for implementation of corrective action plans to prevent re-occurrence of such incidents.
Besides that, the runway being referred to is regularly inspected and has met the required safety standards. UCAA has a robust Runway Safety Programme, and Runway Safety team, which regularly monitors the condition of the runway to ensure safety of landings and take off. In 2019, the airport safely facilitated 32,798 aircraft movements, 14,421 in 2020, 21,584 in 2021 and 28,985 aircraft movements in 2022. Of all these, only two incidents that did not register a single injury or fatality cannot tantamount to a poor safety record.
Uganda is also scheduled to host the NAM/G77+ China Summit in January 2024, and Entebbe International Airport is ready to facilitate the arrival and departure of delegates to the Summit.
I thank you for listening.