RwandAir is rejuvenating its fleet with two new aircrafts from Bombardier Aerospace of Canada.
The first of the brand new CRJ900 NextGen regional jets is expected to land at Kigali International Airport tomorrow, following a handover ceremony held at Bombardier's Mirabel, Québec facility, on Friday.
The ceremony was attended by John Mirenge, Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir, Bombardier senior executives and officials from the Rwandan High Commission in Canada. According to Mirenge, the aircraft is the ideal size to allow the airline to connect its regional markets that have become too large for smaller aircraft, but too small for RwandAir's larger jets to serve efficiently.
"This means a lot to us. It is an addition of two brand new aircrafts that have been added to our existing fleet of five, making it seven in total," said Mirenge.
The two new aircrafts are configured with seven business class seats and 68 economy class seats.
"This will give us more capacity in terms of seats that we can offer to our customers and it opens up capacities for us to extend our reach into further destinations within the African continent," Mirenge added.
The delivery of the planes makes RwandAir the first operator of CRJ900 aircraft in Eastern Africa.
"It is a boost for us. It gives us more flexibility and capability to compete. We are looking at increasing frequency to some destinations to compete even much better," said Mirenge.
Operating from Kigali as its hub, RwandAir's fleet includes larger jet aircraft, as well as two Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets and a Bombardier Dash 8-200 turboprop. The carrier serves most East African Community capital cities with daily flights and it flies to Johannesburg, Brazzaville, Libreville and Dubai.
"Now we can use these brand new planes for a distance of up to four hours. That means we can reach Nigeria to the west, South Africa, and Egypt to the north. It is very appropriate in our growth strategy," Mirenge said.
According to Mirenge, the arrival of the two aircrafts will increase frequencies into the networks the airline has been serving.
"It is a right size regional jet both in terms of consumption compared to the bigger Boeings we have been deploying on shorter routes," he said.
Bombardier is a world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services.
Mirenge said he was happy with the relationship Rwanda was forging with Bombardier.
"This is a relationship we value a lot and we want it to grow," said Mirenge, adding: "We are very happy with the final product. It is a smart product":
In a statement, Edda Mukabagwiza, Rwanda's High Commissioner to Canada, welcomed the move as a way to deepen bilateral cooperation and encouraged Bombardier as well as other investors to invest in Rwanda.
About the CRJ900 NextGen aircraft
The Bombardier CRJ900 is a twin-engined regional airliner with a maximum capacity of 90 passengers. It was developed to follow in the success of Bombardier's hugely popular CRJ100, CRJ200 and CRJ700 jets.
The first flight took place on February 21, 2001. In January 2003, the Mesa Air Group received the first aircraft on behalf of America West Express. After initially registering low sales, Bombardier announced a number of improvements in March 2005, like improved take-off and landing performance, and lower fuel consumption. Sales dramatically shot up. It has a maximum cruise speed of 881 km/hr.
Its lightweight and advanced aerodynamics enable the CRJ900 jet to deliver improved efficiency and reduced operating costs compared to other aircraft in its class. It boasts of larger winglets which ensure excellent airfield performance and minimal fuel consumption. It has superb interior décor, with larger overhead luggage bins, larger windows, improved lighting and redesigned ceiling panels and sidewalls.
The hugely popular jets are used by more than 60 airline companies across the globe. Together, they have amassed more than 32 million flight hours and 27 million take-off and landing cycles.