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Uganda Airlines’ Mumbai Route to Balance Trade with India

The East African nation of Uganda is gearing up for a historic moment in its aviation history as Uganda Airlines prepares to launch its direct route from Entebbe Airport to Mumbai, India, on October 7, 2023. This significant development marks the airline’s second international route, following its successful venture to Dubai, and is poised to have a far-reaching impact on trade and connectivity between Uganda and India.

For over four decades, trade relations between Uganda and India have been somewhat skewed, with Uganda primarily importing goods and services from its Indian counterparts. However, the introduction of the direct flight from Uganda to Mumbai is expected to be a game-changer in balancing the trade equation between these two nations.

Works Minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala expressed his optimism, stating, “It has been more of us getting things from India than us taking things to India. I think this direct flight by Uganda Airlines will help us to kind of balance trade by exporting some more of our products to India.” He further emphasized that this new connection would open doors for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to export their products to India, providing them with a broader market and more opportunities.

Mumbai, India’s largest commercial hub and the sixth most populous metropolitan area globally, is poised to play a pivotal role in this trade rebalancing. Gen Katumba noted, “This route will create a highway between India and Uganda. The Indian community in Uganda must also be excited.”

Moreover, the Ugandan government has ambitious plans to transform Entebbe Airport into a regional hub, facilitating easy connections not only within Africa but also to major international destinations like Mumbai. In August 2023, the airport recorded its highest-ever passenger count, with 191,000 travelers passing through its facilities. With the addition of the Indian community, the government expects this number to surpass 200,000, underscoring the potential for growth and economic prosperity.

Jennifer Bamuturaki, CEO of Uganda Airlines, expressed her optimism regarding the new route, stating, “This route opens up Uganda to one of the world’s largest economies, which positions us as a country to various opportunities.” The airline’s flight schedule will include three weekly flights – on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday – offering passengers the convenience of dinner in Entebbe and breakfast in Mumbai. The inaugural flight, UR 431, promises to be a memorable journey.

Elsie G Attafuah, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) resident representative to Uganda, highlighted the critical role of international trade in economic development. She emphasized that no country has ever achieved rapid economic prosperity without engaging in trade with other nations. Uganda’s new air route to Mumbai signifies a step in the right direction towards enhancing trade and economic cooperation between these two vibrant nations.

This milestone marks an exciting chapter in Uganda’s aviation industry and its broader economic ambitions. The Entebbe-Mumbai direct route not only connects the people and businesses of Uganda with one of the world’s largest economies but also symbolizes the power of international connectivity in fostering economic growth and prosperity. As Uganda Airlines continues to expand its reach, it is clear that the sky is not the limit for Uganda’s aspirations on the global stage.

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