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Uganda Airlines Involves Interpol After Payment Scam Linked to Fake DRC Authority



Uganda Airlines (UR, Entebbe) says it has brought to the attention of Interpol an issue flagged by the Ugandan auditor-general, who revealed that the state-owned carrier incurred a loss by transferring hundreds of thousands of US dollars to a bank account falsely attributed to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s civil aviation authority (Autorite de l’Aviation Civile de la RDC – AAC).

In his annual report to the Ugandan parliament on the financial year ending December 31, 2023, the AG highlighted the following concern: “UNACL [Uganda National Airlines Company Limited] paid a total of USD262,345.64 to a fraudulently created bank account purportedly to be in the name of the Civil Aviation Authority of DRC. This resulted in a financial loss to the company.”

Asked for comment, Uganda Airlines spokeswoman Shakila Rahim Lamar referred ch-aviation to a comment she made to UGNEWS24 in which she explained that the carrier had received an emailed request to make payments to the AAC, which the airline had promptly processed. However, it later received another email with different account details for payment, which it declined having already fulfilled the initial request. The matter, involving parties from different countries, had been forwarded to Interpol for investigation, she said.

Meanwhile, the AG reported that Uganda Airlines continued to underperform in 2023, reporting revenue of UGX230.4 billion shillings (USD60.5 million) compared to the budgeted UGX491.8 billion (USD129 million). Still, this was a UGX89.4 billion (USD23.5 million) improvement on the revenue figure from the previous year.

As in the previous financial year, the auditor-general warned that the airline’s operating margin ratio revealed that it was “not performing well in terms of profitability and ability to sustain [the] provision of services”. But he found that the budgeted state funding of UGX85.6 billion (USD22.5 million) for 2023 had been warranted.

However, he flagged what he called unfavourable contract terms between Uganda Airlines and Rolls-Royce, requiring monthly advance payments for actual and un-flown hours so that “at the time of the audit in November 2023, Roll Royce Plc was demanding USD7.2 million”.

The AG also disclosed that Uganda Airlines had been unable to commence new routes to Mumbai InternationalLagosJeddah InternationalGuangzhou, and London Heathrow at the planned times due to regulatory constraints. “This affected the achievement of targets for the passenger numbers, passenger revenue, total number of routes, average load factor, average route fare per passenger, and total hours of operation per aircraft type, among others,” he said.

CEO Jenifer Bamuturaki disclosed recently that the airline had since received foreign operator permits for Jeddah, Lusaka, and Harare International and was awaiting a licence for Guangzhou. Uganda Airlines already serves 12 African destinations and two intercontinental, to Dubai International and Mumbai.