There was untold embarrassment on Monday when a Uganda Airlines aircraft ran out of fuel while at the Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania forcing passengers to wait for several hours.
According to one Jessica Katusiime, the incident saw passengers disembark from the aircraft and wait for several hours for the problem to be rectified.
“Apparently, the current management dismantled the fuel contracts Muleya (former CEO) put in place that were giving them credit,” she tweeted.
On Tuesday morning, the national carrier confirmed the development that they attributed to their fuel supplier but was quick to apologise for the mishap.
“Allow us to apologise for the prolonged delay at Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam that occurred yesterday 12 July on our flight UR 321. Our service was affected by a mix-up in delayed fuel delivery to the Aircraft caused by our supplier in Dar es Salaam,” Uganda Airlines said in a statement.
The national carrier, however, promised to ensure there is not be repeat of the same.
“We have taken up the matter with them(supplier) to ensure a repeat of the same does not occur.”
The Xtremewood Press has learnt that the national carrier had during the tenure of the sacked CEO, Cornwell Muleya signed contracts in which the airlines’ aircraft would be fueled anywhere they flew without advance payment but that understanding was terminated by the new management.
Whereas the latter ensures a lower price for fuel, it can lead to uncertainties as it happened in Dar Es Salaam.
Following the incident, members of the public, especially those on social media criticized the Uganda Airlines management for such an incident that they said is an embarrassment to the country.
“There’s a lot of incompetence with you guys lately. If you have issues within your management at least don’t let it be seen by us your clients. There are quite a number of airlines around but we choose our own, so don’t take that for granted,” one Enigma Quentin commented on Twitter.
Matia Mubangizi said, “Sometimes I think there are external ghosts inside Uganda Airlines. How else can you explain these scandals one after the other! Precisely, Gen Katumba Wamala should explore hiring an Ethiopian CEO to run this very strategic government business.”
However, for one Bwambale, such mishaps can happen to any airline but urged improvement for better.
“Aviation is not every man’s posho. Delays, occasioned by whatever mishap are normal,” he tweeted.
The development comes as the revived national carrier hopes to shrug off a storm that has behind the curtains been brewing at Uganda Airlines for months as power struggles became pronounced.
This was made pronounced in a January confidential report by Uganda Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Cornwell Muleya in which he indicated that intrigue, corruption and interference were the order of the day.
Muleya also cited the incompetence of the board as some of the members have no aviation background, interference in management areas, especially in the areas of procurement and recruitment of staff.
The report indicated that managers working with backing from some of the board members to inflate invoices have on several occasions to slow down some of the airline projects as they push their own selfish agendas with protection from the “godfathers” on the board.
The report indicated that some board members view the CEO as being too rigid and not flexible on the issue of corruption as people find it hard to work with him.
“They advised that I must try to understand how business is done in Uganda because these practices are normal in this country, otherwise I will find myself alone. They have gone so far as to suggest that our ethical approach management may be one of the reasons why we are experiencing delays in the release of company project funds from the ministries within government.”
Muleya has since been suspended.
President Museveni recently said he had rid the national carrier of a den of corrupt officials.
“The airline had been infiltrated by some alleged corruption which I have smashed by disciplining the board and some elements in the management,”Museveni said as he flew on the airline for the first time since its revival.
Consequently, Jennifer Bamuturaki who previously worked as the Commercial Director of Uganda Airlines but her services had been terminated is back as the acting Chief Executive Officer.