The tourism private sector has asked the government to consider re-opening Entebbe International Airport, saying it is the main gateway into Uganda and an enabler for recovery of all sectors in the economy.

Under their umbrella, Uganda Tourism Association (UTA), Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the association president said there is immediate need to reopen the airport so as to mitigate the negative impact already imposed on the sector. “The continued closure without a foreseeable date of re-opening is a danger to the economy, businesses, employees’ livelihood and a big loss to the country,” Kakooza said.

Kakooza advised the Ministry of Works and Transport and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) to fast track the development of passengers and facility management of the Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) for re-opening.”These SOPs should be drawn from those that have already been provided and approved by the international bodies like IATA (International Air Transport Association), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO),” she noted. She revealed this during a workshop held at Kampala Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday in Kampala.

Yogi Biriggwa, Chairperson, Board of Airlines Association Uganda appealed to the government to at least introduce 2-3 flights per week for the aviation industry to resume with business citing that the more they delay, the more they will be pushed out of business. “COVID 19 is here to stay; we only need to learn how to stay with it. Entebbe airport commands more than 70% of passenger arrivals into Uganda, supports businesses in the importation of raw materials, exporting of manufactured goods and agricultural products,” Biriggwa said. She added that consultations of stakeholders including the tourism sector on the SOPs were to be fast-tracked with the aim of re-opening the airport in September.

Everest Kayondo, Chairman Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) revealed that regional comparison among the East African Community (EAC) countries indicates that Kenya re-opened, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on August1, Tanzania on 15 June and Rwanda in July. Adding that other countries either re-opened their airports or gave indicative dates when they ought to re-open their aviation space.