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Parliament paid Shs 1.7bn for Oulanyah’s chartered flight to USA

According to sources attached to aviation security, Oulanyah was flown out in the early hours of Thursday, February 3, after discharge/referral from Mulago hospital where he had been admitted.

KAMPALA, UGANDA: National Carrier, the Uganda Airlines is said to have charged and received at least $500,000 (about Shs 1.7 billion) to fly the speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah one way to Seattle, United States for treatment.

Acting Uganda Airlines CEO Jenifer Bamuturaki said that the 252-seater Airbus A330-800 was chartered by a private client whom she would not disclose but URN has learnt the payment was effected by parliament officials on Wednesday, February 2.

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 $563,000 (about Shs 2 billion) 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 at the airline said.

Other sources indicated that the legal department of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) had tried to warn that they had not yet cleared Uganda Airlines to fly to the USA.

“However we are not flying there 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.”

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According to sources attached to aviation security, Oulanyah was flown out in the early hours of Thursday, February 3, after discharge/referral from Mulago 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 security source said.

Aviation experts however questioned why the plane took the longer route via Iceland when it could have flown straight to the US or via Dubai. Others have also suggested that there were cheaper options of smaller aircraft that could have ably flown the speaker and his family even if they wanted to fly private.
By Sunday evening the Airbus was still parked in Seattle and it is unclear to where or when it will depart.

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 2020 for some $120,000 (Shs 420 million).

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The speaker was last seen in parliament on December 21, 2021. 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.

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