Uganda Airlines might not be on everyones radar. But that’s because until last week, the carrier just operated a modest fleet of four Bombardier CRJ900’s. Resurrected from its predecessor that last flew in 2001, the latest incarnation spread its wings a little over a year ago, but seemingly has big plans.
With aircraft bought by the government, the airline has just revealed one of it’s two A330-800 wide-body aircraft that will join the fleet, and allow the carrier to once again fly beyond the vast borders of Africa. In fact, the airline’s inaugural issue of their inflight magazine showed the airline’s ambition to fly to the likes of Hong Kong and Guangzhou, as well as Dubai, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, and the airline’s reported first A330 destination, London Heathrow.
Revealed on the airline’s twitter feed, images from Uganda Airlines and Airbus shows the airline has adopted an international standard cabin product, and as far as our recollection goes, is the only African carrier except Rwandair to currently to offer a Premium Economy product.
The first images of their interior shows a sea of earthy colours and tonal greys, brought to life by Airbus’ mood lighting that injects a rich colour palette across all the cabins. In economy, there are 210 seats, each with large personal TVs, and what appears to be a healthy (yet to be stated) seat pitch.
In Premium Economy however, these Geven Comoda AQ seats have adopted what appears to be a rich woven seat fabric with alternating patterns to create points of interest. The 28 seats is a healthy-sized cabin for the carrier which is basically offering point-to-point travel and it will be interesting to see how it fairs. If it becomes a popular option, no doubt we’ll see other airlines follow suit, and we’re still surprised to see that Ethiopian Airlines hasn’t opted for this cabin class being part of Star Alliance.
Interestingly, the airline has opted for Stelia Aerospace’s Opal seat, the same hard product found on Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines’ 787s. However, like Air Calin’s A330-900neo they have opted for the light version of the product, which doesn’t offer as much privacy and personal space as the other premium carriers.
This said, it’s still an impressive product for the region, and for such a small airline. However, there are elements here that we’re less keen on, one of which is the somewhat Renault-style standalone Business Class monitors, which feel like afterthought stuck-on iPads instead of integrated screens. Also considering the efforts that have gone in to the fabric choices, we would have hoped for a more considered shell, which just feels like a sea of white for passengers who will be facing forward.
The other element, which we’ve noticed many airlines go for, is the rear-facing bulkhead detail. Considering most passengers spend their time facing forward, these rear bulkheads are usually used for entrance impact, rather than for passengers during the duration of the flight. Sadly, the bulkhead designs seem at odds from the rest of the interior design, featuring a linear clipart style design of a radar and aircraft image. Instead of a generic obvious aviation reference, it would have been great to see more of a Ugandan cultural pattern at play.
We’re impressed overall by Uganda Airlines’ approach to their cabins. Instead of opting for a boring, flat palette, the airline has embrace colour, texture and pattern to create a rich cabin experience, brought to life by lighting design. It’s yet another carrier on the African continent to showcase a rich vibrant interior design to their cabin, proving this is one continent to watch.