Plans by the Uganda national carrier, Uganda Airlines, to launch direct flights to London, United Kingdom have been hindered by changes in aviation procedures that came after Great Britain exited the European Union.
Before the exit, also known as Brexit, airlines operating flights to the UK and other EU countries would apply for certificates from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
But after Brexit, new Airlines must apply for a Country Operator’s Permit from the UK, a process that takes longer compared to the EU timelines.
Uganda airline secured slots for departures and landing at London Heathrow Airport after receiving its two Airbus A330-800 Neo air crafts in December 2020 and February 2021.
The airline had earlier submitted an application for an Air Operator’s Certificate to operate in the UK and expected to commence the flights in January 2021.
However, this had not been issued by January 2021 when Brexit took effect.
Jenifer Bamuturaki, the Acting CEO of Uganda Airlines, said the airline has to wait for the UK Civil Aviation Authority to issue guidelines and aviation certification requirements to operate flights to London.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority held a meeting with officials from Uganda Airlines, the Uganda Mission in London and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority in May 2021, after which it was announced that Uganda would commence flights in September 2021.
Bamuturaki, however, says the UK Civil Aviation Authority notified Uganda last October that the airline would have to apply for a Third Country Operator’s Permit, a process which takes not less than six months. She is now optimistic that flights to London will commence in June 2022.
Michael Kaliisa, the Manager Corporate Quality at Uganda Airlines said the airline is seeking approval for the permit to fly and also sourcing for service providers for catering, fuel, and airport staff among others at London Heathrow Airport.
UK CAA says, to continue operations to the UK after its exit from the EU, a valid Third Country Operators certificate must be in place.
“If you currently hold a UK-TCO then that remains in force until further notice and no further action is necessary.”