Following the announcement of RwandAir’s first B737-800 ‘Sky Interior’ delivery and unveiling of the future vision for Rwanda’s national airline by RwandAir CEO John Mirenge, it was established that an option agreement for 2 Dreamliners has been signed. The deliveries are likely to start in 2015/16 period, at which time additional aircraft are also due to come to the airline. The 2020 strategic plan speaks of a total of 18 aircraft ‘WB’ intends to fly from its hub in Kigali, and, very likely, from the new international airport at Bugesera.
There is intense speculation among regional aviation analysts and observers over the exact plans for the airline’s growth, starting from the almost certain new destinations, when the second B737-800 is delivered in late October, to an intermediate future fleet development of the airline ahead of the intended B787 delivery. Considering the complex structure of the ‘Rwanda Incorporated’ decision making, it is thought that a number of key decisions are pending before cabinet until pen is put to paper and firm commitments can be made for the purchase of additional new single aisle aircraft.
While the airline is reluctant to discuss these details, clearly not wanting to give the game away by alerting their competitors in the region, it is clear that sooner or later larger turboprops than the currently used Bombardier Dash 8s will be required to support growing demand from the domestic network, and it is anybody’s guess where they may come from. They could be the larger Bombardier models like the Q400 or turboprops from French manufacturer ATR, which several other airlines in the region, like Precision and Fly540, already operate successfully.
As to additional jets, the guess equally is anyone’s right now. It is known that Embraer has a keen eye for the East African region following their overwhelming success in selling their 170’s and 190’s to Kenya Airways, but even Bombardier’s new C-series may be a contender, along with Boeing itself, though Boeing might not immediately have the smaller jet of the right size available to fulfill RwandAir’s needs in that particular segment. Time will tell the story in greater detail but the aggressive plans by RwandAir for making Rwanda a regional aviation hub and claiming their place among the major airlines in East Africa will undoubtedly be a subject for more speculation in coming months. Watch this space for the most current aviation updates from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region.