UNCERTAINTY AS 30 AIR HOSTESSES PONDER SUING UGANDA AIRLINES
By Isaac Wandubile
Sometime last year, Uganda Airlines (online) advertised jobs seeking to recruit at least 30 air hostesses and flight attendants-all of them females. Already about 30 air hostesses are on the job but there was need for more because management anticipated expansion of the operational routes especially in the SADC region. This naturally necessitated more air hostesses who are also called flight attendants. The other reason that warranted this recruitment was the fact that there will be need for more flight attendants once the two additional much-awaited airbuses arrive. It’s also true that majority of the 30 air hostesses currently on job are relatively grown up (and could soon become ineligible for the job on the account of age) having previously served with other airlines especially Aga Khan’s Air Uganda.
Inside sources say that of the current number, only 12 air hostesses are young enough to be expected to remain eligible in the near future-the rest will be out over age concerns. But because of huge unemployment in Uganda, when the advert was electronically published, over 5,000 applied where the company needed only 30. After rigorous interview processes, the best 30 were identified and informed they would now become employees of the airline. But today, months down the road, they are unable to begin work even when some have already returned from the mandatory training conducted at Kenya Airways’ Training Center in Nairobi (yet there is no clarity as to what is going on). They can only begin work either when the additional flight routes are opened into the SADC region or if the two airbuses arrive (but the manufacturer is still within their contract time).
This prolonged delay has led to frustration because some of these young ladies had well-paying jobs elsewhere from which they resigned to begin working with Uganda Airlines. Some of the frustrated girls have been trying to have audience with either the President or Gen Salim Saleh to report their grievances but their efforts have largely been unsuccessful largely because some of the guys inside the Airlines have very good connections with especially Gen Saleh making it hard for any bad reports related to the Airline to ever reach him.
It’s against this background that, some of the redundant air hostesses are considering suing the airline in a manner similar to what some KCCA recruits did against Jennifer Musisi who recruited them but took longer than expected to have them deployed into the jobs for which they had been recruited. Each of the air hostesses is supposed to earn about Shs4m per month-and there is plenty of training that is part of the stringent requirements regulator UCAA sets for airline operators.
Air hostesses are a key component of the customer service function each airline is expected to perform. This includes serving drinks or food to passengers; periodically conducting cabin checks; checking on the lavatory to ensure the smoke detector hasn’t been disabled; restocking supplies and they are generally cabin crew members taking care of all the emergencies. They also look out for special needs passengers, small children travelling as unaccompanied or even VIPs. They also monitor passengers to ensure adequate safety for everyone including passenger seat belts being fastened prior to take off. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).