The proverbial Phoenix risen from the ashes is rightly seen as a prime example that Africa is not all about chaos and coups, dictators, disorganization, and disease but living proof that principled and disciplined leadership can accomplish everything the so-called developed countries have accomplished, and then some more. The sky is the limit for the country, and it is that same sky which is the workspace for this national airline.
Over the past several years, RwandAir has established itself as a growing force in African aviation and made more than a few waves.
Now flying from Kigali into the entire Eastern African region, including serving 5th freedom routes from Entebbe to Juba and to Nairobi, the airline has established a sizeable West African network, flying to Brazzaville, Libreville, Douala, Lagos, and Accra, and Abidjan is due to be launched later this year. In Southern Africa, it is Johannesburg, and since last month also Lusaka that RwandAir flies to, and Harare is reportedly coming on line next, also to be served together with Johannesburg. Daily flights to Dubai round up the number of present destinations, and were it not for the Tanzanian regulators sitting on a 5th freedom application to fly from Kigali via Dar es Salaam to Mumbai, India’s largest city would already be on the RwandAir route maps.
Flying the arguably youngest fleet of any airline in Africa, another brand-new Bombardier Q400NextGen dual-cabin turboprop aircraft will arrive on June 20 in Kigali, as the airline has rolled out an ambitious growth plan. A third Boeing B737-800NG is, according to usually well-informed sources, on order, due for delivery either late this year or early next year, and the airline has signed an MOU with Airbus for the delivery of two Airbus A330-200s in the 2016/17 time frame. This will catapult RwandAir into the league of intercontinental carriers, and plans have already been made public that flights to Asia and Europe will then be on the cards, once the airline’s first ever wide-body planes have joined the fleet.
Supported by a government which clearly sees the airline as a strategic asset, Rwanda has not just funded their national carrier to grow, but has at the same time expanded and modernized the existing airport in Kigali and turned it into the one with the shortest ways and the best-planned passenger flow in the entire region. A new airport outside the city is also being planned in Bugesera, a sign that aviation is an integral part of Rwanda’s future development strategy.
Last year, RwandAir was certified as IOSA compliant, and the ISAGO certification process has started in earnest. Next week IATA will again come to Kigali to officially welcome RwandAir as a full IATA member.
With just 7 aircraft on the fleet right now, 8 from next month, 2 B737-800NGs, 2 B737-700NGs, 2 Bombardier CRJ900NextGens and – the new delivery included – 2 Bombardier Q400NextGens, the airline is perhaps still small, but today, RwandAir is a player which is not just worth keeping an eye on, but which has to be on the list of airlines that aviation pundits regularly check out.