In view of apparently dropping passenger numbers, which aviation observers connect and attribute to the recent threats made against Air Uganda, the Ugandan Inspector General of Police made a public statement in support of the airline, reassuring potential passengers in a two-page press release that the airline was safe and all possible security precautions and measures have been taken. This is an unusual step, that a senior government official apparently has to resort to such a measure, and that the reassurances and statements of the airline’s management were apparently not enough for some travelers to take comfort and reassurance from. The full statement is reproduced here as follows:
PRESS RELEASE BY UGANDA POLICE INSPECTOR GENERAL
In the last few days, media outlets, quoting the American Warden website in Sudan, have circulated reports that Air Uganda flights on the Juba to Entebbe route is a target of extremist elements.
These reports have caused apprehension within the aviation industry and unnecessarily alarmed the traveling public.
In fact, on the 3rd of December, 2009, Uganda Security agencies, including the Uganda Police, received an anonymous email that terrorists were planning an attack on Air Uganda flights out of Juba Air Port in Southern Sudan. While this was a single, unverified source, it was consistent with earlier similar threats to Uganda’s security. We, therefore took the email seriously and stepped up security around our vital installations, including providing extra protection to the aviation industry, both at Entebbe and Juba Air ports.
Specifically, we enhanced security at Entebbe Airport, to include, among other measures, increased screening of passengers and luggage, with use of x-ray scanners, metal detectors, CCTV cameras, as well as physical body searches.
In addition, we have deployed sniffer dogs from the Police K-9 Unit at the airport and beefed up foot and motorized patrols within the airport, along its perimeter, as well as on the approaches (routes) to the airport.
The airlines operating out of Entebbe Airport, in particular Air Uganda, were advised, and they implemented, a wide range of new security measures for passenger screening and baggage handling. We are working with Air Uganda and other airlines to support on-board security during flights.
We are also working closely with the government of southern Sudan to enhance security measures for flights out of and into Uganda from Juba, southern Sudan.
In addition, we are sharing information with our brothers and partners in the region to timely detect and mitigate threats of terrorism on Ugandan interests.
In view of the above, therefore, we want to assure members of the public, air travelers, and the aviation industry at large, that services and facilities out of Entebbe Airport are safe and secure, and there is no cause for alarm.
The Uganda Police, working with other sister security agencies, shall remain vigilant to ensure the safety and security of all air travelers.
In particular, we want to re-assure the traveling public who use Air Uganda that Air Uganda is safe and secure. Anyone who had doubts should rest assured by the security measures in place and continue using their services.
Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura
Inspector-General of Police
Uganda Police Force
14th of January, 2010