Entebbe airport lying in the coordinates of 0.0436° N, 32.4418° E is the main gateway into Uganda and the only international airport one can use to enter into Uganda by air. Entebbe airport is located on the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe is 49.2 kilometers away from Kampala city the capital city of Uganda approximately 1 hour and 2 mins drive. Entebbe airport under the authorities of the civil aviation authority (CAA) of Uganda is used as a commercial and a military airport, headquarters for civil aviation authority and also Air Uganda. Eagle Air and Royal Daisy Airlines use Entebbe airport as a Centre for their operations. The old airport is being used as a base for Uganda military forces.
So as to aid communication between the colonial territories, Email delivery services were introduced in Kenya in 1929 by Wilson Airways. Because of this, the first-ever civil aviation in Uganda was observed in the early ’30s when a flying boat landed at the port bell, southeast of Kampala on the shores of Lake Victoria to deliver mails.
Entebbe airport was constructed during the colonial era by the British colonial authorities in 1928 and operations began on 10th November 1951 with the 3,300-yard runway. Entebbe then served as a base to the RAF Fairey IIIs which was in charge of handling Cairo-cape flights. Imperial Airways also started using Entebbe airport for their mail service from cape – Cairo in early 1932. Many developments were done in Entebbe airport as time went on, for example, a radio was installed in 1932 and grass surface was replaced with murram in runways. Asphalt was also applied to the main runway in 1945 and also a passenger terminal was built in the 1970s together with a runaway.
Following the Israel rescue operation of an Air France flight 139 where Entebbe airport was used as a plot for hostage rescue operation famously known as Operation Entebbe, the government of Uganda received a grant of USD 10 million in February 2015 to establish and renovate airport facilities and of infrastructures purposely too modernize the airport.
The Entebbe port termed as EEB by The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a scene for significant historical events for example
- operation Entebbe of 4 July 1976 which was a rescue mission by the Israel Defense Forces, following the hijacking of Air France flight 139 which had made a stopover in Athens, a city in Greece on a route to Paris from Tel Aviv, with 248 passengers by two rebel members of Palestine-external operations (PFLP-EO) under the orders of Wadie Haddad who had just broken away from popular front for the liberation under George Habash together with two members of Germany Revolutionary Cells, the scene where rescue took place was the old terminal.
- Uganda –Tanzania war is also known as the AKAGERA WAR which was fought between Uganda and Tanzania between October 1978 and 1979 which resulted into the overthrowing of Idi Amin the then president of Uganda and his regime. This war led to the partial destruction of the airport’s infrastructures.
- The Aerolift llyushin ll-76 S9-SAB CRASH of 2009. This crash happened on 09 March 2009 when Dynacorp chartered airplane crashed into Lake Victoria minutes after taking off from Entebbe airport due to engine failure killing all passengers (11). According to investigations by Uganda’s ministry of transport, all the four engines were time – expired and claims made by Aerolift company of performing maintenance on them to extend their service life aren’t substantial.
In April 2016, expansion of departure arrival lounges a UGX 42.6 billion projects funded by Civil Aviation Authority of Uganda was launched by John Byabagambi minister of works. The expansion was to be done by Seyani brothers limited started in June 2016 and expected to be finished in late 2017
Currently, Entebbe airport is under modernization process, plan of 2015-2033 funded by the government of South Korea and People’s Republic of China which is to cost approximately USD 586 million. The modernization process was projected to be done in three phases that are:
- Phase 1 of 2015-2018 which estimated to cost USD 200 million for construction of a new passenger terminal, relocation, and expansion of cargo terminal and renovation of and rehabilitation of runway 112/30
- Phase 2 of 2024 -2033, this phase is estimated to cost UUS$ 125 for the relocation and expansion of fuel storage facilities.
- Phase 3 of 2024 -2033, this last phase is to cost approximately US$ 160.5 million for the construction of a new control tower, building a new multi-story car park and strengthening and resealing of current runways.
Traffic at Entebbe airport under Civil Aviation Authority of Uganda has steadily increased over the years from 118,527 in 1991 to 1,840,264 in 2018 and because of this progress it has won many accreditations and awards for example
- African Aviation Award 2003 by African Aviation magazine by Outstanding African Civil Aviation Authority in 2003
- African Aviation Award 2004 by African Aviation magazine 2004 for Outstanding Civil Aviation Authority in 2003
- Public Relations Excellence Award, Public Sector 2008/2009
- 5th Golden Award for Tourist, Hotel & Catering Industry by New Millennium award Madrid 2010 (Spain)
- Winner Regional Heats 2010, Routes Airport Marketing Awards
- Appreciation to Civil Aviation Authority for outstanding contribution and support towards the Kabale Sports Tourism festival 2015 by East Africa Sports Tourism Initiative
- Appreciation to Civil Aviation Authority for CAA Appreciated for sponsoring the Uganda Seniors Golf Open October 29-30, 2016 from Uganda Seniors Golfing Society
- Africa Leadership Awards 2016 for CAA’s exemplary and selfless contribution towards Africa’s development and many more.
Entebbe airport offers many passenger facilities for a comfortable stay at the airport while waiting to catch their flights which include a left-luggage office which handles luggage left by passengers, banks, automated telling machines for withdrawing money and making any bank-related transaction, foreign bureau outlets, restaurants, and duty-free shops. Entebbe airport accommodates more than 1,510,000 passengers with estimated 26,886 movements of aircraft and also carries 52,841 tonnes of cargo.
Entebbe airport’s groundling operations are serviced by two companies namely National Aviation Services Uganda former Entebbe Handling Services (ENHAS) the largest handling with headquarters at Entebbe airport and DAS handling limited the second largest groundling company with headquarters at Sebugwawo drive, Entebbe.
Entebbe airport services more than 19 airlines offering flights to different destinations which Aerolink Uganda, Air Tanzania, Brussels Airlines, Eagle Air, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Fly Dubai, Jambo Jet, Kenya Airways, KLM, Precision Air, Qatar Airways, Rwanda Air, South African Airways, Turkish Airlines. The airport also has contributed to the tourism industry of Uganda where it has some chatered flights which fly to many national parks in Uganda like Bwindi Impenetrable National park for gorilla trekking, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park