RWANDAIR – WHERE DREAM HAS TURNED INTO REALITY
While in Rwanda last week news emerged from the corridors of RwandAir, that Accra / Ghana will become the airline’s 15th destination by latest June this year, adding yet another West African gateway to Lagos, Libreville and Brazzaville. The move shows that the expansion drive of Rwanda’s national airline is continuing unabated, buoyed no doubt by the government’s commitment to throw its full support behind it, budgetary constraints notwithstanding.
RwandAir’s CEO John Mirenge is also on record that during the remainder of the year additional destinations will be launched, among them Juba, Zanzibar and either Lusaka or Harare or perhaps even both combined. In the latest edition of INZOZI, RwandAir’s inflight magazine, he says: ‘We are the fastest growing airline in Africa. It is both challenging and exciting. The challenge is that we are joining long serving giants in the market. The exciting part is that we are doing so really fast. We are happy to begin 2013 with bilateral agreements signed with Kenya Airways to join our efforts in a number of areas of our operations on short and long term basis’.
The ambitious growth plans will be further aided when in April this year the airline’s two B737-500 will be returned to the lessors GECAS at the end of the lease agreement and be substituted against two more recently built B737-700ER’s, acquired from Germany’s TUIfly.
The change will not only add a few more much needed seats but primarily extends the operational range as the two older Boeings faced limitations on the longer routes for instance to Dubai, Johannesburg or Lagos while the much younger B737-700’s can fly these routes with full passenger and cargo load.
Further expansion of destinations and frequencies is envisaged for 2014 when very likely the two options for another two Bombardier CRJ900NextGen will be turned into firm orders, ahead of the delivery of two B787’s due by 2015 and 2016.
President Paul Kagame himself reiterated his government’s commitment to RwandAir when he answered a question by this correspondent last Wednesday at his monthly ‘meet the media’ session. He outlined that Rwanda would in due course seek a strategic investor in RwandAir to spread the financial exposure wider through a public private partnership and then allow freed funds to be used for other, equally important infrastructure projects like the new Bugesera airport and the railway link from Kigali to Tanzania’s Isaka.
With this level of support from the highest office in the land, it is no wonder that RwandAir’s top management oozes confidence and can honestly say that the dreams of the past have now been turned into the reality of the present, also ably expressed in the upcoming change of the tagline from ‘Fly our Dream to the Heart of Africa’ to soon read ‘From the Heart of Africa’. Watch this space for regular updates from East Africa’ vibrant aviation scene.