Uganda Airlines charged and received 500,000 US Dollars to fly the Parliament Speaker Jacob Oulanyah one way to Seattle, United States of America for treatment.
Acting CEO Jeniffer Bamuturaki told Uganda Radio Network that the Airbus A330-800 was chartered by a client whom she would not disclose but URN has learnt the payment was effected by Parliament officials on Wednesday 2nd February 2022.
The 18-hour flight by an A330-800 from Entebbe via Iceland to Seattle – Tacoma International Airport on the West Coast of the United States would on the open market rates cost cost 563,000 (about 2 billion shillings) that Uganda Airlines charged is reasonable by international standards.
“ We accepted the payment after the ministry of foreign affairs notified us that they had secured permits for it to fly over airspaces such as Iceland and the United States, where we haven’t yet acquired air operating certificates,” sources in the airline said.
Other sources indicated that the legal department of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) had tried to warn that UCCA had not cleared Uganda Airlines to fly to the USA.
“However we are not flying their on a Uganda Airlines designated route but are just renting out our aircraft to client for a specific journey,” the source explained. “That is why we did not use Uganda Airlines call sign.”
Indeed, Uganda Airlines has creatively started making some money by renting out the Airbus planes before the company secures the long international routes they were bought for. Only recently, the manufacturers themselves, Airbus, hired Uganda’s plane to exhibit at the Dubai Expo for some $120,000.
According to sources attached to Aviation Security, Oulanyah was flown out in the early hours of Thursday, February 3, 2021, after discharge/referral from Mulago National Referral Hospital where he had been admitted.
“Oulanyah was brought to the Old Airport in an ambulance. He was either sleeping or unconscious as he was boarded onto the plane on a stretcher,” the AVSEC source said.
Another source says Oulanyah was escorted by a ten people who included his medical team and close family members.
Oulanyah travelled aboard the Uganda Airlines’ Airbus A330-800 neo, with registration code 5X-NIL which flew from Entebbe International Airport to Keflavik, Iceland in a flight time of 10 hours 42 minutes.
The Airbus has full capacity of 40,000 litres of jet fuel.
Uganda Airlines flew from Keflavik to Seattle in a flight time of 7 hours and 28 minutes. The plane landed in the USA on Friday, February 4, 2022.
The flight was operated with the flight number UR2, different from the ordinary Uganda Airlines’ flights which are operated with flight numbers in the UR4XX range.
The Speaker was last seen in Parliament on December 21, 2021.
Last year, shortly after his swearing-in as Speaker, Oulanyah disappeared for a month after presiding over Parliament at the reading of the 2021/2022 financial year Budget at Kololo Independence grounds.
His deputy Anita Among has mostly been in charge of the parliamentary business since the beginning of the term in May, a matter that triggered speculation about his health. Reports had initially indicated that Oulanyah was battling COVID-19.
Meanwhile, several sources within parliament and government departments remain tight-lipped about the matter.