RWANDAIR TO BECOME PART OF THE GROWING QATAR AIRWAYS GROUP
(Posted 05th February 2020)
After taking a 60 percent stake in the redesigned Bugesera International Airport, which cost has risen to at least 1.3 billion US Dollars, has information emerged from the sidelines of the aeropolitical summit currently held in Doha, that Qatar Airways is now also taking a stake in national airline Rwandair.
While this will be a minority share to protect traffic rights is it nevertheless widely expected that Qatar Airways will have the final say about management and upcoming asset decisions, when additional aircraft will be ordered.
The same will also very likely apply to changes in maintenance arrangements, training and key purchasing decisions like insurance.
The deal, which is yet to be formally announced, spells serious trouble for both Kenya Airways and the Kenya Airports Authority.
The latter failed to progress the much needed second runway at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at a time when everyone in the aviation industry demanded for it to be built yesterday rather than today. Shortsighted politicians and willing bureaucrats lacking vision and horizons, brought the Project Greenfield down which included a second runway and now, with Addis Ababa planning a new mega airport for up to 100 million passengers and Rwanda having access to the nearly unlimited funds of the State of Qatar to complete their new airport, is Nairobi looking at the prospect of playing second fiddle in the near future when it comes to aviation.
The development is also perceived as a belated payback against Kenya, which a few years ago, on the eve of an inaugural flight from Doha via Nairobi to Kilimanjaro, was told that they would not get landing rights and permission for the route which according to well informed sources at the time had been verbally granted. A second such situation then also arose for planned flights from Doha via Mombasa to either Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar, leaving the Qataris fuming over the affront and the Kenyan government then issuing a rather half hearted and very belated apology.
Visits from Kenyan government officials to Doha did also not yield the full results Kenya had hoped for in other economic areas, and the recent close alignment between Rwanda and Qatar, could in retrospect have become an axis between Qatar and Kenya being established had Kenyan officials not played silly buggers at the time.
Once Qatar Airways is formally on board as a major shareholder at WB, will it only be a matter of time until – like in the case of Air Italy – RwandAir will fast track fleet, frequency and destination growth across Africa and beyond and become a real player in the African skies.
For Qatar Airways will the new partnership mean that they can develop Kigali as their African hub from where a network of services then connects across Africa, geographically well placed like few others on the continent.