Uganda Airlines has received two Airbuses A330-800neo. The airline received the first Airbus on December 22, 2020 before the second one was delivered on February 02, 2021. Uganda Airlines placed an order for two A330-800neos in 2019 as part of its ambitious plans to expand beyond the continent. Uganda Airlines now has a fleet of six aircraft – two A330s and four CRJ-900s.
The A330 is in a three-class configuration – business, premium economy, and economy – with 20, 28, and 210 seats respectively. The Airbus A330-800neo completely changes the game in terms of Uganda’s route options. After placing its order, Uganda Airlines announced plans for a bold push into the long-haul market, with destinations including London, Guangzhou, and Dubai under consideration. The airline is also looking to expand its continental services, with new routess including South Africa, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe in the works.
While its CRJ-900 jets have a range of around 3,000km, the A330-800neo can fly over 15,000km and is one of the most economical aircraft in service today. This will give Uganda Airlines the tools it needs to compete with major international carriers serving Entebbe International Airport, which includes Emirates and Turkish Airlines.
There have been just 14 orders for the A330-800neo, with the plane failing to receive any orders at all for the first four years. The biggest customer for the -800 variant is Kuwait Airways, which has an order for eight planes and already has two in service. In November, Kuwait Airways became the first airline to operate the A330-800neo with Uganda Airlines coming a close second. Although the plane has failed to attract many orders so far, it may fare better after seeing more action through 2021.
President Museveni scoff at International community
While receiving the first Airbus in December 2020, president Museveni scoffed at the international community for “meddling in Uganda’s internal affairs.” He noted that Uganda had earlier entered into an agreement with a Canadian agency for credit, so that Uganda procures the Airbuses. “But then I don’t know why these foreigners waste time meddling up in our internal affairs. The agency said, some idiotic things for not advancing the loan,” intimated president Museveni.
He promised to forward the issue to the Canadian prime minister once they meet. “I will tell him, I don’t like bad manners,” said president Museveni. “Those people can go to hell. We have paid for all the airlines with cash including the bombardiers. Uganda is not part of the group that wil dance to the tune of those foreigners. For us are not too lazy to work,” Museveni apprised.
He recognised the inconvenience caused to Ugandan travelers who often use other airlines saying, they’re tasked to pay different prices. He cautioned against corruption in Uganda Airlines.
About the Airbuses
With a range of 8,150 nautical miles, the A330-800neo can seat up to 406 passengers. It also features one of the shortest runway requirements among all the new generation aircraft that makes it the best fit for smaller airlines at smaller airports. The Airbus A330 New Engine Option (NEO) was developed by Airbus as a successor and redesigned version of the A330 airliner.
On November 6 2018, A330-800neo took its maiden flight with a four hour and four-minute flight. On February 13, 2020, the aircraft was awarded the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification. The A330-800neo maintained the 58.82-meter fuselage length of the A330-200, but can accommodate six more passengers with an advanced cabin that has 18-inch wide seats for economy configuration.
It has an exterior height of 17.39 meters and a fuselage diameter of 5.64 meters. It has a wheelbase of 22.18 meters. Other enhancements include increased 64-meter wingspan with A350 XWB-inspired winglets, new engine pylons and new composite sharklets.
The cabin of A330-800neo presents the Airspace Cabin design that won a Best Product Launch award and was unveiled in 2016. The cabin has the newest fourth-generation In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) that features a fiber-optic backbone, hardwired for high bandwidth and Ultra High Definition (UHD) with 3D capable screens for passengers. It also has the updated in cabin management tools such as the Flight Attendant Panel (FAP) and Galley Inserts.
It features the Person with Reduced Mobility (PRM) lavatories that helps to transfer the passenger from the wheelchair to the toilet seat through a tip-up seat mounted inside the lavatory. The A330-800neo has a cabin length of 45 meters and a width of 5.26 meters.
A330-800neo Engine and Performance
Crafted specifically for the A330neo, the aircraft is driven by two latest-generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-72 turbofan engines with a maximum thrust of 72,834 pounds each. It has a small, high pressure-ratio core and a fully swept wide-chord fan technology that gives it a 10% fuel consumption enhancement. The aircraft has a maximum range of 8,150 nautical miles and has a fuel capacity of 36,740 US Gal. It can fly up to 41,450 feet and has a maximum cruise speed of 496 knots.
Additional reporting by Moses Sentamu