Qatar Airways yesterday made its maiden flight to Rwanda
The Kigali-Doha route, via Entebbe in Uganda, is one of the latest routes by the giant airliner to be operated by an Airbus A320 with a capacity to carry 144 passengers. It has 12 seats in business class.
"The coming of Qatar signals mutual development which will have a positive impact on economic growth of both countries," said Infrastructure Minister Albert Nsengiyumva who officially launched the coming of the airline.
In his remarks, the minister said the government had invested heavily in the aviation industry in response to the growing air traffic.
Among the infrastructure put in place is the new modern radar system to boost air traffic control operations.
"With a strong focus on operating in underserved markets worldwide, Kigali is one destination which clearly fitted the bill for Qatar Airways," said Akbar Al Baker the Chief Operations Officer of Qatar.
"Rwanda is fast emerging as a growing economic centre and strong links with Europe and the far East".
He expressed his gratitude for the support given by the government to ensure the Airline's operations. The government initiated the idea in November last year.
"I appreciate the leadership of Rwanda, especially the President of Rwanda. He's aggressive and wants to put the country on the world map," Al Baker hailed.
In recent months, Qatar Airways launched new routes in Africa including Libya, Uganda, Mombasa in Kenya, Tanzania in Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.
In his speech, the COO said the young Airline has been operating since 1995 and to date is operating a fleet of 106 aircraft to 113 destinations.
The Airline is targeting to acquire 270 aircrafts in the next nine years which will cost $50 billion.
Rwanda has trade ties with the Middle East, including Qatar, mainly for horticulture products.
According Ndambe Nzaramba, an official from National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB), Rwanda exports Avocado, French beans and specialty coffee to the Middle East.
"We are hopeful that competition on this route will bring prices down, increase export volumes because prices are a major challenge to exporters especially those dealing in fresh products," Ndambe said.
Rica Rwigamba, head of tourism and conservation at Rwanda Development Board, said expectations are high that the coming of Qatar will attract high end tourists from the Middle East.
"The coming of Qatar will have tremendous impact on Rwandan tourism, it reaches out to our high end tourists worldwide," Rwigamba said. She however challenged everyone to improve services to meet five star clients.
This year, South African Airways and Turkish Airlines are expected to join Qatar Airways in operating the Kigali route.