11 May 2019

Ethiopia: Rwandair to Start Flights to Addis Ababa

Photo: New Times
Passengers board RwandAir (file photo).

The national carrier of Rwanda, RwandAir, is to launch flights to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport this summer.

CEO of RwandAir, Yvonne Manzi Makolo told The Reporter that RwandAir will soon start operating a five weekly flight between Kigali and Addis Ababa. "We are looking at connecting the Kigali hub to Addis Ababa. We think it is a very good synergy for the two countries," Makolo said.

According to the CEO, RwandAir will deploy a Bombardier CRJ or Boeing B737-800 aircraft on the Kigali Addis Ababa route.

Ethiopia and Rwanda have a bilateral air service agreement signed by the civil aviation authorities of the two countries. Ethiopian Airlines operates double daily flights between Addis Ababa and Kigali.

Asked if there is enough traffic for additional frequencies Makolo said that RwandAir has conducted a market study and confirmed that there is a need for additional air transport service between the two countries. "I believe that there is enough traffic for both of us," she said.

Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir have technical service agreement through which Ethiopian Airlines provides technical services for RwandAir. "They maintain our Bombardier and Boeing fleet. We also use Ethiopian Aviation Academy to train our technicians. We used to train our pilots there," the CEO said.

After Rwanda established Akagera Aviation, the first pilot training school in Rwanda, RwandAir trains its pilots in Rwanda.

In 2015 Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir signed strategic partnership agreement that enables the two carriers to cooperate in various fields including stake acquisition. However, the strategic partnership agreement did not materialize. "That agreement did not take off. I was not with RwandAir when the agreement was signed and I do not know why it did not take off," she said.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam previously told The Reporter that the government of Rwanda has changed its mind on the strategic partnership agreement. "I think they have decided that RwandAir should grow by itself," Tewolde said.

Currently, RwandAir serves 25 international destinations with 12 aircraft. The fleet consists of 2 Airbus 330, 6 B737-800, 2 Bombardier Q400 and 2 Bombardier CRJ aircraft. RwandAir serves only one domestic and 25 international destinations. It flies to Brussels and London in Europe, Dubai in the Middle East and Mubai in Asia.

RwandAir is planning to fly to Guanju, China and New York in the US. "Our Civil Aviation Authority has been working with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to secure flight rights to New York City. They are working on safety audits and certification. It is a work on progress," Makolo said.

Established in 2002, RwandAir is wholly owned by the government of Rwanda.

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