24 February 2017

Rwanda: New Chief of Firm That Will Construct Bugesera Airport Has Work Cut Out

Photo: Paul Adude/Daily Monitor
RwandAir Chief Executive Officer, John Mirenge, presenting the Ubumwe A330 airbus at Entebbe International Airport.

The Aviation, Travel and Logistics Limited (ATL Ltd) has its work cut out for the next two years as the new chief executive takes office and construction works of Bugesera International Airport kicks off.

Lucky Cheong, the new chief executive of the holding firm, said, at the moment, they are deeply involved in the design of Bugesera International Airport as well as construction.

He said as construction work for the new airport starts, the firm is keen on setting up systems that will see them deliver quality services.

Among the tasks involved in the process, he said, include identifying skill needs required to develop the sector and ways to train their staff.

"We could do this by having experienced trainers and mentors which is where partners come in. We could also send our managers for bench marking to more experienced airports," Cheong told The New Times in an interview yesterday.

He said towards the launch of the new airport, they will seek to create demand for the airport's services largely by making it a reputable name to industry players.

"We must be well aware of international standards, we want to put our expectations high from the onset when the new airlines come in," he said on the sidelines of the Aviation Africa 2017 summit.

Presently, Kigali International Airport handles about 800,000 passengers every year while the new facility will handle about 1.7 million passengers.

He noted that, in coming years, other than the airport, they would also develop an airport city around Bugesera as well as aviation ecosystem with multiple players.

Akagera Aviation, Cheong added, could in the process be largely involved in the training of staff.

The holding company was formed and approved by the Cabinet in 2015 to manage aviation activities including travel, logistics, ground, freight and cargo handling, as well as charter services.

The company has subsidiaries in an attempt to position the country as a regional aviation hub for tourism, cargo and logistics-related activities. They include RwandAir, airports and Akagera Aviation.

Cheong, a Singaporean, began work at the firm on February 1. He brings on board a wealth of experience having worked in the aviation industry in Singapore, and Vietnam among other countries.

In 2005, Cheong was part of a team that started an airline in India. His appointment comes at a time when the local aviation industry is working out a growth path with heavy investments in the national carrier and a new airport.

As he starts operations, there are huge expectations on making Rwanda a regional hub for logistics and travel.

This has partly been facilitated by putting in place a visa regime - visa on arrival for African passport holders as well as online visa application process.

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