As revived national carrier Uganda Airlines prepares to take to the skies officially on Wednesday, for the first time in nearly 18 years, its most booked route out of its four initial destinations is Mogadishu.
Mogadishu is currently followed by Nairobi, whose bookings are fast coming in and are expected to peak as the flight date draws closer.
The national carrier will start with flights to Nairobi, Dar-es Salaam, Juba and Mogadishu.
The first flight is expected to leave Entebbe at 6.00am and land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi at 7.15am.
The Mogadishu flight will leave Entebbe at 5.37pm and land at Aden Adde International Airport at 8:00pm.
Uganda Airlines commercial director Jenifer Bamuturaki told The EastAfrican that more clients have booked the Mogadishu flight than any other, although she did not give numbers.
Uganda has a relatively large Somali community living in Kampala, many of whom are keen to travel to their homeland.
“The increased bookings are because of a high demand along this route, and also because we are offering direct flights from Entebbe to Mogadishu,” Ms Bamuturaki said.
Uganda Airlines is currently the only airline flying direct from Entebbe to Mogadishu. Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways make stopovers at their hubs before connecting.
“With time, we will increase the number of flights from Entebbe to Mogadishu from the current four a week to six a week,” Ms Bamuturaki said.
The revived airline also has plans for two daily flights to Nairobi and Juba, and one daily flight to Dar es Salaam, which will be plied by four Bombardier CRJ 900s aircraft, two of which arrived in the country on April 24.
The other two, which were supposed to arrive early next month, are now expected at the start of October, according to Ms Bamuturaki.
The two aircraft will be deployed immediately to new routes, and also to increase frequency on those already started.
The carrier plans to increase the number of destinations to include Bujumbura (three times weekly), Mombasa (three times weekly), and Kilimanjaro (daily). Other destinations will be Harare, Accra, Lusaka and Johannesburg.
The airline recently released promotional rates that will run for two months: Return tickets cost $278 for Nairobi, $225 for Juba, $590 for Mogadishu, $286 for Dar es Salaam, $292 for Bujumbura, $325 for Mombasa and $311 for Kilimanjaro.
The government has also made a down payment of Ush74 billion ($20 million) on two Airbus A330-800 Neos, which will be used for long haul flights and are expected to be in the country between 2020 and 2021. The airline will then introduce longer flights to Europe, China, and India