The board chairman of Uganda Airlines (UR, Entebbe/Kampala) faces dismissal unless he can explain a raft of issues plaguing the state-owned carrier, including delays in the certification of some of its CRJ900LRs and A330-800Ns.

In a stern letter dated April 26, 2021, Minister of Works and Transport Joy Kabatsi gave chairman Godfrey Pereza Ahabwe until Friday, May 7, 2021, to present a comprehensive report or face dismissal on issues ranging from corporate governance, certification, ground handling, and flight operations, to aircraft maintenance and training. “In case of failure to respond as requested, I will have no other option but to request the shareholders to suspend you,” the letter, seen by ch-aviation, reads.

Issues raised in the letter provide the first insight into reasons that may have resulted in the removal earlier this week of the airline's management team, including chief executive Cornwell Muleya, who have been placed "on leave”.

Amongst other things, Kabatsi is demanding answers to why the airline’s heads of departments and technical staff have failed to develop manuals that are satisfactory to the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) concerning the certification of the CRJ900s, which she says, has still not been concluded. The carrier has four of the type which it flies on regional routes in East and Central Africa.

She is demanding clarity on the timeline for the certification of the airline’s two A330-800s, the delay of which has hamstrung its inter-continental expansion plans. The airline was hoping to commence flights from Entebbe/Kampala to London Heathrow this month.

Kabatsi also wants to know why the board has failed to address “weakness in management, especially by the Chief Executive Officer, to rein in and discipline errant staff”. In addition, Ahabwe will have to account for the board’s role in recruiting staff and procuring goods and services for the airline.

Ground-handling issues raised include the purchase of equipment that has not been used for four months while the airline continues to pay ground rent and storage fees; questionable prices for ground handling equipment; and the airline’s plans to start self-handling.

On flight operations, the minister has flagged the cost of flight simulator training. She also wants to be briefed on arrangements to set up the airline’s own aircraft maintenance organization, and on the development of training programmes for critical staff.

The letter, reportedly leaked by the board, says Ahabwe and his team had refused to attend a meeting where these issues were to have been discussed.