Uganda Airlines hunts for more pilots in a bid to fight delays, cancellations

05 Feb 2024

KAMPALA: Uganda Airlines is hunting for more than 20 pilots and First Officers in a bid to close flight cancellation and delay gaps that have rocked the national carrier since December.

David Kaweesa, the Uganda Airlines head of flight operations, told media at the weekend the company was short of cabin crew and efforts were underway to fill the vacuume.

He said out of the 24 required pilots and flight officers, the airline only has 13 of each.

“So we have to fill this shortage. Getting a pilot from interview time to operational takes us five months. Its not a short time.”

“The first interview, only three people passed out of 67. It is not an easy interview. We want people who are competent to come and join and actually work,” he added.

This came following complaints by a group of pilots who claimed that they were being forced to fly for 17 consecutive days without rest. This is against the aviation regulations.

But Kaweesa dismissed the allegations, accusing the failed interviewees of spreading malicious information.

“That is where I suspect this rumbling comes out from people who have failed interviews,” Kaweesa said.

Chief Executive Officer Jenifer Bamuturaki said recently that whereas the company had enough aircraft for both regional and long haul flights, they had to scrifice some schedules in a bid to comply with the international aviation rules of having their crew rest for at least eight hours.

“The issue of fatigue would probably come up on the side of CRJ pilots because of the schedules we run. CRJs feed and defeed the Airbus more often. We have also had some foreign pilots who have left,” she said.

“We’ve also had some pilots who have been promoted from one seat to the other. We also have pilots who have been promoted from CRJ to the Airbus and replacements have been coming slowly.”

According to Bamuturaki, “People have agreed to join but they will give you timelines that are far down.”

“So we find ourselves with shortages of pilots on the CRJ fleet and obviously they would work in the a way that must be looked at in terms of the fatigue regulation and management,” the CEO said.

Bamuturaki said the situation reached the peak last December and the airlines was forced to put out a notice to that effect.

The airline said the ‘big boys’ in the aviation sector were poaching pilots from the small airlines even after investing heavily in their training.

They also said once the shortage has been addressed, the other planned flights to the UK and China would be launched. 

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