President Yoweri Museveni appointed Jenifer Bamuturaki as the the substantive Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Uganda Airlines, the country’s growing national carrier.
A letter from the Works and Transport Minister, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, to the chairperson of the Uganda Airlines Board indicates that the directive to appoint Bamuturaki came from President Yoweri Museveni.
In 2019, when the Government of Uganda revived Uganda Airlines, Bamuturaki was hired as the Commercial Manager of the new airline. However, after the probationary period ended, she was questionably not given a long-term contract.
However, following the suspension and interdiction of the entire board of directors and many senior management executives at the airline in April 2021 over corruption and mismanagement, the shareholders recalled Bamuturaki and made her the acting CEO in May 2021.
During the one-year period as acting CEO, Bamuturaki has registered great milestones with emphasis on zero-tolerance to corruption and employing cost-saving measures for the national carrier.
This however, has not gone down well with a section of people who are hellbent to make dubious deals with Uganda Airlines. According to sources, this explains why Bamuturaki has sometimes suffered negative publicity arising from defamatory fabricated stories.
Sources say Bamuturaki’s stance to do the right thing and implement the airline’s business plan both in the short and long-term is what made President Museveni appoint her the substantiate CEO.
President Museveni also considered Bamuturaki’s experience in aviation industry.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Social Administration from Makerere University. She also has qualifications in sales and marketing for airlines (International Air Transport Association- IATA certified).
Bamuturaki has also trained in revenue management, something she’s already putting in practice at Uganda Airlines in an attempt to make the national carrier profitable in the long run.
She also has a wealth of experience spanning over 30 years as a marketing consultant in the aviation, hospitality and travel industries.
When she worked at the defunct Air Uganda in sales and marketing departments, she was “directly responsible for route research.”
Additionally, for seven years, she served as a country manager for East African Airlines.
Future is Bright
It is this rich experience that Bamuturaki is bringing to Uganda Airlines.
Despite the COVID-19 disruptions, Bamuturaki has registered several achievements during her one-year stint as Uganda Airlines Acting CEO.
More travelers are embracing Uganda Airlines as the national carrier under the leadership of Bamuturaki continues to market itself as the airline of choice.
In a recent press briefing, Bamuturaki said Uganda Airlines carried 154,245 passengers in 2021 compared to 93,780 in 2019 and 2020 combined.
She added that the airline is now focusing on “investing in customer retention systems, seeking strategic partnerships, growing cargo operations and network expansion.”
Uganda Airlines has already completed feasibility studies on a number of routes it plans to fly to. Some of the routes in question include Mumbai in India, London in United Kingdom, Goma and Lubumbashi (both in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Guangzhou in China. In fact, Uganda Airlines has already got approval to fly to Guangzhou.
Having started commercial operations in August 2019, Uganda Airlines has expanded its network to 11 destinations since inception.
However, according to the airline’s business plan, in the 2nd year of operation, the national carrier had planned to have 18 and four (4) regional and international routes respectively, but this couldn’t be possible due to COVID-19 effects.
Some of the Uganda Airlines operational routes include Nairobi, Mombasa, Dubai, Kinshasa, Johannesburg, Juba, Dar es Salaam Mogadishu and Bujumbura.
It’s worth noting that Uganda Airlines fleet consists of two (2) Airbus A330-800 Neo and four (4) Bombardier CRJ900.
Additionally, Uganda Airlines has started operating domestic scenic flights, which are targeting first time fliers and also boosting the carrier’s revenues from charters. The domestic scenic flights are being chartered by a private client, Vilakazi Safaris Uganda Ltd, that is promoting domestic tourism.
Uganda Airlines operated its first scenic or joy flight on May 1st 2022 aboard one of its four Bombardier CRJ900 aircrafts.
Uganda Airlines is also set to roll out its self-handling project this year. According to Bamuturaki, this will involve passenger, baggage and cargo handling, maintenance, security and general ground operations.
Ephraim Bagenda, the Director of Engineering and Maintenance at Uganda Airlines recently said the national carrier is currently spending US$250,000 (about Shs905.9m) per month on contracted maintenance.
Shakila Rahim Lamar, the Corporate Affairs & Public Relations Manager at Uganda Airlines recently told Business Focus that: “Self-handling will enable the Airline cut 60% of its operating costs if it handles most of its operations at its hub in Entebbe.”
Currently, DAS Company does ground handling for Uganda Airlines.
Uganda Airlines will join other successful airlines embracing self ground handling including but not limited to Emirates, KLM, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), Lufthansa, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways and RwandAir.
To retain customers and improve passenger experience, Uganda Airlines also plans to activate a Frequent Flier Program in the 3rd quarter of 2022.
Against the above background, President Museveni saw no reason why not to appoint Bamuturaki as the substantive CEO of Uganda Airlines.