TikTok video falsely claims Entebbe Airport faces closure over purported audit

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on June 15, 2023 at 12:25
  • 2 min read
  • By Mary KULUNDU, AFP Kenya
A TikTok video viewed more than 500,000 times claims that Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport is facing closure following a damning audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The claim is false; ICAO dismissed the allegation, saying the organisation “does not audit airports”, only aviation regulators in member states. Ugandan aviation authorities also denied the claim, adding there were no recent audits of the facility.

On May 22, 2023, a TikTok account shared a video narrated in Luganda with a title that translates to: “Entebbe Airport woes worsening, it is all tears as [it] heads for closure.”

In the video, a narrator claims Uganda's only international airport had failed an audit conducted by the ICAO.

“Now the experts from ICAO have conducted a test on Entebbe to evaluate its standards, and in the final count, Entebbe airport has failed.”

For this reason, according to the narrator, the airport was destined to close.

A screenshot of the false TikTok video, taken on June 14, 2023

The TikTok account shares content in the local Luganda language and provides “entertainment and celebrity news updates”.

Online users commenting on the video listed other airports they could use in the event Entebbe was closed.

But the claim that the airport’s days are numbered because of a poor ICAO audit outcome is inaccurate.

Non-existent audit

ICAO spokesman William Raillant-Clark told AFP Fact Check that the organisation “does not audit airports” as is claimed in the post. Regulators, however, are audited.

Raillant-Clark said ICAO only undertakes what is known as the Universal Safety Oversight Auditing Programme (USOAP) at the request of its member states.

“It [USOAP] is an audit of the implementation of technical standards related to safety oversight by aviation regulators. Even a negative outcome of this auditing process does not necessarily indicate a safety risk,” he said.

Raillant-Clark added that “there is no significant safety concern for Uganda”.

Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also dismissed the claim on Twitter, noting that the airport “has not undergone any audit recently”.

According to the CAA, Uganda is scheduled for a USOAP audit in September 2023.

Speaking to AFP Fact Check, CAA public relations manager Vianney Luggya said: “This is not true [that] the airport is closing.”

“We have seen what some social media users have been sharing and we take it as malice and empty talk,” Luggya added.

While ICAO has not conducted any audit, last year local media reported (archived here) that a classified inspection report of the airport highlighted security areas that required the attention of UCAA.

A look at live air traffic on the “Flightradar24” website on June 14, 2023, showed flights still landing and departing from Entebbe Airport.

Entebbe Airport woes

The Ugandan airport has faced negative publicity in the last two years, from allegations of corruption to reports of wasteful expenditure.

In January this year, local media reported (archived here) that a worker at the airport pocketed $10,000 to facilitate an illegal flight to Brazil.

In 2021, AFP Fact Check debunked Facebook posts sharing images claiming to show the rebranding of Entebbe Airport following a takeover by the Chinese government.

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