The Ugandan government may have struck a deal with Boeing for the purchase of four aircraft for Uganda Airlines (UR, Entebbe), stirring speculation of a strategic move against rival Airbus.

While there has been no official confirmation, sources "familiar with the development" told the Kampala-based news site 256 Business News that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni greenlit the purchase of two freighters - one B737-800(F) and one B777 - and two B787 passenger aircraft. No details were given of the aircraft selection.

Neither the president's office, nor the airline, nor Boeing commented on the matter when approached by ch-aviation.

ch-aviation was told that the details of the April 22 meeting were yet to be officially released. On the day, Museveni announced on social media that a Boeing team led by META (Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa) president Kujit Ghata-Aura had visited him at State House in Entebbe.

"We have plans to increase the Uganda Airlines fleet for both cargo and passenger aircraft. On fleet maintenance, I welcome the idea of having some light maintenance here initially. Where applicable, we hope to utilise existing capacity for maintenance service in brotherly countries like Ethiopia until our fleet grows to allow us to have it done fully in Uganda," he said, but made no mention of a decision.

Meanwhile, ch-aviation understands that Airbus is proposing a solution for Uganda Airlines' fleet needs that would align with its existing Airbus fleet, leveraging commonality and expertise gained thus far.

Uganda Airlines currently operates two A330-800N widebodies and wet-leases one A320-200 from Global Aviation Operations (GE, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) on a six-month contract ending October 2024, while its regional fleet comprises three CRJ900LRs, according to ch-aviation fleets data.

Adding four Boeings would mean the airline would operate five different aircraft types, introducing additional operational complexities and costs in terms of maintenance, spare parts, fleet efficiency, operational flexibility, and pilot and cabin crew training.

Boeing is grappling with a slow-down in B737 production to address quality control issues. Deliveries of B787s are backlogged after having been suspended for two years over manufacturing defects. Not a single B777 has been delivered so far this year, according to Boeing's first quarter 2024 financial results.