#RwandAir looking at fleet rationalisation and expansion


(Posted 08th June 2018)

Airline competition in Eastern Africa is set to increase sharply over the next years as Air Tanzania plans to return to the market with new jets later this year and, going by the State of the Nation address in Uganda earlier in the week here too a national airline is due for revival, in both cases by government directive rather than market driven.

Neither of them seems to have taken any hints on board of the dire situation of the airline industry across Africa where, apart from Ethiopian Airlines, left alone by the country’s politicians and now operating a fleet of 100 aircraft to over 100 destinations around the world, few are showing profits on their bottom lines.
To the contrary have losses spiraled out of control at South African Airways and is Kenya Airways still struggling to return to profitability, both of them established airlines with strong domestic, regional, continental and intercontinental appeal. How the upstarts will match those criteria and make sufficient inroads into the market seems both a matter of dreams and nightmares at the same time and which one it will be in the end has the jury out, watching from the sidelines.


Meanwhile is word coming out of RwandAir that the airline has apparently taken key decisions in regard of their own fleet expansion which may also be used to streamline the fleet composition of 12 in service right now.
Two Bombardier Q400’s, vital to serve important regional routes for off peak flights besides operating on the only domestic route to Kamembe, will no doubt be retained in the longer run.
The same cannot be said however for the CRJ900’s, which according to information received overnight may be phased out in favour of at least two additional Boeing B737Max8’s, something which has been suggested here before. The same source also suggested that RwandAir had indeed done a deal with Airbus for the addition of two more A330’s which are due to be deployed on new long haul routes from Kigali to the United States – once prerequisite approvals and licences have been secured and all US statutory audits been passed on airport and airline – and to Guangzhou in China.
A source at Airbus declined to comment but reading between the lines were two scenarios left open for speculation, one being that Airbus due to recently flagging sales had production slots available for a 2019 delivery for the A330’s and the other being that production slots initially set aside for orders by now defunct airline Air Berlin could be used to fulfill a RwandAir order.


Recent expansion of destinations and increasing success in capturing transit traffic from West, Southern and Eastern Africa is likely to see the airline’s passenger numbers jump over the 1 million mark by the end of the year and with some foresight towards that goal and beyond is another terminal expansion underway in Kigali to cater for this growth – and to meet the US FAA CAT 1 and other requirements in the process.

Given RwandAir’s strategic role in bringing business and leisure visitors to the Land of a Thousand Hills are these latest fleet expansion plans adding speed to the airline’s and the country’s plans to become one of Africa’s leading MICE hubs on the continent, which according to the ICCA statistics published recently now holds the third position for both city and country after South Africa and Cape Town and Morocco and Casablanca, leaving former MICE powers Egypt and Kenya in their wake.


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