Tremendous Progress Recorded In Uganda’s Aviation Industry
In line with the Uganda Vision 2040, Government developed a 20-year National Civil Aviation Master Plan covering the period up to 2033. The Master Plan covers Entebbe International Airport and other airfields in the country.
The project for the upgrade and expansion of Entebbe International Airport is critical to the development of the air transport industry in light of the growing passenger and cargo traffic figures. While Entebbe International Airport handled 118,000 international passengers in 1991 at Uganda Civil Aviation Authority’s (UCAA) establishment, the Airport handled 1.8 million passengers in 2019.
The passenger traffic growth trend was only halted in 2020 when the figure reduced to 565,541 owing to the effects occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the airport registered 1.57 million passengers. In the first quarter of January to March 2023, Entebbe International Airport recorded 402,314 passengers compared to 414, 431 in the same period of January 2019, before the pandemic.
The revival and commencement of flights by the national airline, Uganda Airlines, is expected to further grow this traffic (in subsequent years), and promote the country’s tourism potential. In addition, traffic is also expected to be boosted by the coming on board of new operators like Airlink, which commenced flights to South Africa in September 2021, Air Arabia, which commenced flights from Entebbe to Sharjah, UAE in October 2021, and Air Kenya, among others.
In terms of cargo, Entebbe handled 6,600 metric tonnes of cargo in 1991,and 61,000 metric tonnes in 2022.
Uganda’s major exports, include fresh produce, especially fish, flowers, vegetables and fruits, which are consumed by markets in Netherlands, Belgium and the Middle East, among others. The new state-of-the-art cargo Centre with capacity to handle 100,000 metric tonnes annually is aimed at addressing this demand. Cargo operations have already shifted to the new facility.
The overall project for upgrade and expansion of Entebbe International is at 85% level of completion and also includes, among others;
- Strengthening of the main runway 17/35 and associated taxiways – complete
- Strengthening and rehabilitation of the alternative Runway 12/30 and the associated taxiways – completed
- Rehabilitation of Aircraft Parking Apron 4 and Reconstruction of Aircraft Parking Apron 2–completed
- Expansion of the main Aircraft Parking Apron 1 – ongoing
Construction of a new Terminal building is currently ongoing in the area where cargo operations were previously undertaken. Annual capacity of the current terminal facilities will then increase from 2 million passengers a year to atleast 3.5 million passengers by end of 2023.
The current terminal has also been re-modified to create more room for departing passengers. The departure area is already in use, and the departure road has been re-instated. At the end of June 2023, departing passengers will be dropped off at the entrance to the terminal building.
A Terminal Operations Control Centre has also been erected by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to ensure automation of operations as part of a USD 9.5 Million grant by the Government of South Korea. KOICA is the implementing agency of the project on behalf of the Korean government. The project, which was commissioned in September 2022 has also delivered the following:
- A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)
- Airport Operational database (AODB) system
- Implementation of ATS Message Handling System (AMHS)
- Improvement of Flight Procedures efficiency through Air Traffic Management
- Capacity building, including training of Ugandans in Korea.
In the area of legislation, H.E. the President assented to the CAA Amendment Act, 2019 and it was published in the Uganda Gazette as CAA Act No. 7 of 2019. Most of the amendments were aimed at ensuring harmonization of Uganda’s regulations and practices with the universal practice across the globe.
In an effort to expand connectivity, Uganda recently signed Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with Finland, Colombia and Nigeria (reviewing of the route schedule). Uganda has so far concluded 51 BASAs of which 27 have already been operationalized. This shows commitment to open new air routes and to attract more operators to Uganda.
UCAA and Entebbe International Airport retained the prestigious ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems (QMS) Certificate in 2021 following compliance with stringent requirements for the internationally recognized certification by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Other aerodromes operated and managed by UCAA in Gulu, Arua, Soroti, Mbarara, Tororo, Kisoro, Pakuba, Kasese, Jinja and Kidepo were also awarded ISO 9001:2015 QMS Certification for a period of three years up to 2024.
Other major achievements recently accomplished by the Authority include the following:
- Implementation of the new Electronic Government Procurement System (eGP) which went live in November 2020. UCAA was one of the ten pilot entities..
- Approval of additional Aviation Training Organizations (ATOS), including Bar Aviation Academy, Kubis Aviation Academy and additional training programmes by Morea. The number of Approved ATOs is now.
- A flight procedure design unit for air navigation services operations was established .instrument fright procedure designers have been trained and the unit equipped with relevant software and hardware.
- One of UCAA’s strategic objectives is to promote the development of an Air Navigation System aligned to the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP). It is in line with providing airspace users with improved capacity and efficiency. In this respect, the Air Traffic Management system has undergone various system improvements and upgrades as follows;
- • Air Traffic Management (ATM) has made a transition from conventional navigation using ground aids to the use of satellite based navigation. Since 2020, arrival and departure procedures in Entebbe are based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), which has improved the safety, efficiency and capacity of the Ugandan airspace.
- Due to the ATM improvements above, UCAA has been able to implement free routing airspace within the Entebbe Flight Information Region (on request from IATA). Using this technology, a pilot can safely fly from point to point within the Ugandan airspace without following the published routes.
- In relation to upgrade and improvement of Navigation Aids infrastructure and systems,
- UCAA adopted a phased approach, which has involved;
- Installation of High Frequency (HF) Radio system for the Rescue Coordination Centre at Entebbe International Airport was completed. This facilitates the provision of Search and Rescue Services to aircraft in need of the services within the Flight Information Region (FIR).
- The Non Directional Beacon (NDB) at Port Bell, Luzira, was installed and two Distance Measuring Equipment installed at Entebbe.
- Upgrade of the Automatic weather observation system is ongoing.
- Implementation of the electronic terrain and obstacle data (eTOD) for the area covering the entire territory of Uganda, in line with the requirements of ICAO. This involves collection of terrain and obstacle data for the entire country. This data is used in various air navigation applications.