It will become easy to travel to Uganda from Saudi Arabia, because saudi airlines announced its new flight route in February. The SkyTeam alliance will start this service from King Khalid International (RUH) base in Riyadh and end in Entebbe (EBB). Entebbe is about 36 km from Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
The maiden flight reached Entebbe at 7am, carrying 300 passengers aboard an Airbus 330-300. This flight was greeted with a cannon salute to celebrate the moment. This airline is the first to directly link Saudi Arabia and Uganda. Many business people and tourists travel between these two countries for work and other reasons.
This 3,614 km route will start on February 2 and will be available twice a week. One way, the flight will take 5 hrs 5 mins from Riyadh and the reach time will be 4 hrs 40 mins. Initially, Saudia planned to link these two countries last September, but the plan could not materialize. Finally, however, the airline has succeeded now. As a result, Entebbe has now become 4th place in East Africa joining Mauritius (MRU), Addis Ababa (ADD) and Nairobi (NBO).
This new connection will surely strengthen relations between Saudi Arabia and Uganda. This includes the signing of the memorandum in October.
According to Uganda Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson, Mr. Vianney Luggya, Saudi Airlines will be the 17th airline to operate in Entebbe. According to him, with the arrival of new airlines, the country’s aviation confidence is increasing. Therefore, he expects there will be growth in passenger traffic through this new airline, which is steadily increasing every year. According to the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, the Middle East accounts for around 21% of passenger traffic at Entebbe Airport.
Abubaker Jeje Odongo, Ugandan Foreign Minister, has decided to import many products like fruits, vegetables, milk and spices from Uganda through this new airline. He also called on the government of the Middle East to seek new opportunities in Uganda related to the mining, agricultural and tourism sectors.
It is also reported that the two countries have reached an agreement for the protection of the rights of Ugandan migrant workers employed in Saudi Arabia. It has been calculated that there are around 80,000 Ugandans working in Saudi Arabia, and most of them are domestic servants.
According to information provided by Saber Market Intelligence, in 2019 the passenger rush from Saudi Arabia and Uganda was around 23,000, of which Dubai (DXB), Cairo (CAI) and Addis Ababa were largest correspondence market.
Once Saudia launches the RUH-EBB route, it will be the third new route that will connect Uganda and other destinations in the Middle East. On October 4, Ugandan Airlines offered flights from Entebbe to Dubai (DXB) and vice versa, while Air Arabia offered flights between Sharjah (SHJ) and Entebbe on October 12.
In COVID-19, the number of passengers in Entebbe has halved due to travel restrictions. According to the noted data, in 2019 the traffic was 1.98 million, and with the hit of the pandemic, the number fell to 600,000 in 2020. However, in 2021 the numbers saw a slight increase and reached 940,000.
In 2020, Uganda’s import from Saudi Arabia was about $274.5 million, while the gulf imported goods from East African countries costing about $5 .2 million.
About Saudi Airlines
Saudi Airlines is a flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia. The operational base of this airline is at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Secondary hubs are King Fahd International Airport in Dammam and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. If we talk about revenue, this airline is the third largest in the Middle East and is behind Emirates and Qatar Airways. The airline operates international and domestic flights and covers more than 100 countries in Africa, the Middle EastEurope, Asia and North America.
In 2012, Saudia joined the SKYTEAM alliance. The airline has codeshare partnerships with Garuda Indonesia, Korean Airlines, Czech Airlines, KLM, Etihad Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Middle East Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air Europa and Oman Air. The airline has 74 years of activity and is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO). In 2018, this airline carried 34 million passengers to more than 90 destinations on the continent.
Saudia is currently benefiting from its accelerated transformation, revitalizing its airline business, from operations to fleet management and network growth. In 2017, Saudia was awarded the “World’s Most Improved Airline 2017” award by Skytrax. This award is given to Saudia for its growth and improvement in various categories within one year.
In 2018, Saudia partnered with ABB FIA Formula E Championship for the all-electric series.