Rwandair is one of Africa’s fastest growing airlines and indeed one to watch after cementing a strategic partnership with global giant, Qatar Airways. The gulf carrier has expanded its presence on the continent even during the pandemic and sees Africa as the next frontier in its quest to become the preeminent airline on the globe.
Rwandair and the under-construction airport at Bugesera which will both have Qatar shareholding are now the strategic key-points for the gulf carrier on the continent.
For Rwandair, this relationship provides a strong global partner to help accelerate growth and access key markets across the world. The two airlines have recently signed a codeshare which will see Rwandair access the American market
RwandAir’s CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo, reaffirmed the negative effects of the pandemic on the airline but despite this drew up a positive outlook with the airline expected to double its fleet in the next 5 years
“We have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and we did have to shrink our services. But doing so has allowed us to begin growing again.
We suspended thinner routes, but we have opened new routes as well, including Lubumbashi and Goma in Democratic Republic of Congo. Our growth will be organic, but we expect to double our fleet over the next five years.
Diversifying our revenue streams will also be important. Cargo will be a big part of that as we have had the African Continental Free Trade Area operating since the start of 2021. It is estimated that this will grow intra-African trade more than 50% in the first year alone. It removes tariffs on 90% of goods. We must be ready to build on this opportunity.”
With regards to the airlines relationship with Qatar Airways, the CEO elaborated on its broader benefits
“The codeshare with Qatar Airways is a major achievement for RwandAir. It gives our passengers access to a world-class airline and a worldwide network. To make it truly seamless, we will launch non-stop flights between Kigali and Doha in December 2021.
The agreement will prove beneficial for both airlines. It gives us access to 265 global destinations and they greatly improve their pan-African offering. We will also share our loyalty programs and RwandAir is the first sub-Saharan carrier to do that.
In due course, Qatar Airways will also acquire part of RwandAir. And we will also look at other synergies in terms of training, service delivery, and so forth.”
She also discussed Africa’s potential beyond the current struggles why Africa’s airlines must come together and collaborate
“The main thing about African aviation is its potential for growth. There is an absolutely massive market waiting to be connected.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is an important development. It will drive trade and in turn that will drive demand for business travel. We have to be ready to leverage that opportunity. Of course, creating a single African aviation market would provide an even bigger stimulus.
African airlines also have to be better at collaborating with each other on non-competitive issues, such as safety and taxes and charges. There is more we can achieve together and that would provide an example to governments on the benefits of partnership to economies and the end user.
Anything we can do to get the cost base down would make African airlines more competitive and allow more Africans to travel.”