The New Year 2018 has kicked off in high gear for RwandAir, the national carrier of Rwanda with launches of new routes.
The latest news is the now scheduled May 16 launch of its new Kigali-Harare-Cape Town route.
RwandAir is one of the fastest growing airlines on the continent reaching out to more than twenty cities in Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
It has already been operating the Kigali-Harare with four times a week; on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The latest development, however, enables the Harare-Cape Town extension to be added to the route.
The launch of this route, which will complete RwandAir's coverage of Sub Saharan Africa destinations, was made possible by an offer of air flight 5th Freedom Rights by the government of Zimbabwe on Feb. 12.
The 5th Freedom Right is the right to carry passengers from one's own country to a second country and from that country to a third country and so on.
"Yes, we have received 5th Freedom Rights to fly between Harare and Cape Town," RwandAir Communication Director, Yvonne Manzi Makolo, confirmed the developed which was also heavily publicised in the Harare press.
Zimbabwe's Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Joram Gumbo, is quoted to have said that the new RwandAir route will bring relief to travellers from Harare to Cape Town.
The new route will complete RwandAir's coverage of Sub Saharan Africa. In August last year, the Rwanda's National Carrier launched its regional hub in Benin to effectively serve Western and Central Africa.
In another development, on Feb. 02, RwandAir revealed it is seeking to enter Israel's aviation market and plans to recruit General Sales Agents to represent it in that country. It launched a bidding process for consultancy activities on Feb.02 to study and enter the Israeli market. The bidding closes on March 03.
RwandAir is also set to expand its wings to Abuja in Nigeria. The Abuja route will be tagged to the existing Accra destination, where the flight will stop in Abuja before heading to Accra in Ghana and is expected to be operated four times a week.
"This is yet another big milestone for RwandAir as we continue to expand our network. Our aim is to provide our customers with seamless and better connections on the continent and beyond," RwandAir's acting chief executive, Col. Chance Ndagano, told a Times reporter.
According to Ndagano, destinations to Abuja and Cape Town will help boost the economies of the three countries in terms of tourism and trade on one hand, and enhance bilateral partnership between Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa.
RwandAir also already has 5th Freedom Right from the Nigerian authorities to fly without any limitations along Abuja-Yaoundé route in West Africa.
Rwanda also recently signed a bilateral air service agreement with Cape Verde, opening more potential market opportunities for the national carrier and the country's private sector.
Rwandair has plans to spread to Conakry in Guinea, Bamako in Mali, Dakar in Senegal, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Lilongwe in Malawi, and Durban in South Africa.
News reports have also quoted Ndagano saying in an interview with African Aerospace, that the carrier has immediate plans to enter the Asian and US markets following the launch of flights to Brussels National and London Gatwick in Europe last year. The next step is the launch of flights to Guangzhou followed by New York JFK, in the United States, he said. "We are in the process of applying for [China] permits and as soon as that process is done, we will be able to serve that route. We are looking for one (A330) to lease and be used on the China route," he said.
It acquired its first A330 series (A330-200 and A330-300 Airbus aircraft) in 2016. It also operates a narrowbody fleet of two B737-700s, four B737-800s, two CRJ-900s, and two Dash 8-400s used on regional African operations spanning West, Central, East, and Southern Africa.
Ndagano also revealed that RwandAir is also considering longterm growth options, including the acquisition of A330 and B737/737 MAX respectively from Airbus and Boeing.
He said the number of planes to be ordered have been fixed as yet, and any order is still two to three years off.
"If the aircraft get filled up, maybe we need another," he said. "RwandAir is not seeking growth for growth's sake."
In a related development, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has agreed to train officials of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA).
The agreement signed in Singapore this February indicates that Rwanda's officials will be trained by officials from the Singapore Aviation Academy (SAA).
"Partnering with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore will impart aviation knowledge and skills in our nascent human resource, which is a much needed building block for Rwanda to steadily achieve the required standards for a safe and secure aviation industry," said Silas Udahemuka, the Director General of RCAA .
"In this regard, the signing of the new training Agreement is an affirmation of CAAS' commitment to the development of aviation human capital for the advancement of international civil aviation," said Kevin Shum, Director General of CAAS.