Nigeria Awaits Its National Carrier, As Uganda Emerges As World’s Youngest Fleet

By Al-Amin Ciroma

Uganda Airlines Bombardier
Newly acquired Uganda Airlines Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft stand on the runway at Entebbe Airport on the outskirts of Kampala on April 23, 2019. – The first two planes purchased in a bid to relaunch Uganda Airlines have been delivered, nearly two decades after the East African country’s national carrier collapsed. The two Bombardier CRJ900 jet airliners, which can carry up to 90 people, landed at the Entebbe airport outside the capital Kampala during a ceremony attended by President Yoweri Museveni. (Photo by Nicholas BAMULANZEKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS BAMULANZEKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Since 2018, both Nigeria and Uganda have struggled to revive their defunct national airlines. Almost four years into the race, Uganda Airlines has regained altitude with a small fleet of six new aircrafts and is now ranked the youngest by any airline globally in 2022.

The Uganda Airlines’ small fleet comprises four Bombardier CRJ900s aged from 2.29 to 2.75 years old and a pair of rare long-range Airbus A330-800, aged 1.13 and 1.17 years old to service both local and regional operations. Flying a young fleet is a plus for any operator. Younger aircraft typically use less fuel and thus, give off fewer emissions while being cheaper to run. From a passenger’s point of view, the cabin will usually be less worn and more comfortable compared to older aircrafts.

The old Uganda Airlines bit the dust in 2001 after years of aerial woes. The Ugandan government decided in 2018 to have another go at their national carrier. Wide consultation and studies recommended the government’s equity investment of approximately $70 million and loans totaling $330 million borrowed from regional lenders to support the project.

A review of the timelines showed that in May 2018, the Ugandan Airlines placed orders and made part-payment for six new airplanes. In March 2019, all 24 Ugandan cockpit crew had been trained and certified. In April 2019, the first Bombardier CRJ900 arrived. Between April and July 2019, the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) was processed and awarded by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority. On the morning of 28 August 2019, Uganda Airlines had its first commercial flight. Effective March 2021, Uganda Airlines entered into an interline agreement with Emirates Airlines. An amazing success timeline for the world’s youngest fleet.

Other top-five youngest fleets cited by ch-aviation are Chilean SKY Airline, Salam Air in Oman, Viva Air in Colombia, and Saudi Arabian Flyadeal.

Nigeria is scheduled to roll out ‘Nigeria Air’ in the first quarter of 2022. After four years of testing the waters, the project has nothing on the ground yet.

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