RwandAir Limited is the flag carrier airline of Rwanda. It operates domestic and international services to East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and the Middle East from its main base at Kigali International Airport in Kigali.
A Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Wednesday removed John Mirenge as the chief executive officer of national carrier RwandAir, replacing him with Col Chance Ndagano in an acting capacity.
Mr Mirenge has been at the helm of RwandAir since 2010 and is credited with steering an ambitious expansion plan. His exit came in the week RwandAir made its maiden flight to Mumbai, India, and announced a route to Harare, Zimbabwe.
Col Ndagano is also the board vice chairperson of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA).
Another military officer, Lt Col. Sylvere Munyaneza was also appointed the airline’s deputy CEO in charge of operations.
Mr Munyaneza replaces Jean Paul Nyirubutama, who was appointed to the airline’s board.
Yvonne Makolo Manzi, who has been the chief marketing officer of MTN Rwanda, was appointed the position of deputy CEO in charge of corporate affairs at RwandAir.
There were no immediate reasons for the removal of the airline's top executives, but reliable sources indicate that mismanagement of resources and failure to contain financial leaks could be behind the sacking.
Mr Mirenge has been credited for expanding the airline from five aircrafts since his appointment to 11 aircraft currently, including two triple class wide-bodied Airbus A330 planes deployed on intercontinental routes. The airline also has three Boeing B737-700 and -800 aircrafts.
The changes come at a time when RwandAir was planning to launch a direct flight to London, Gatwick in May. RwandAir’s maiden flight to Harare arrived on Wednesday, increasing the airline’s routes to Southern Africa to three.
While RwandAir has not started making profits yet, there have been reports of financial losses, with a reliable source indicating that an internal probe unearthed missing funds up to the tune of $2 million.
On December 8, 2016, Nigerian media reported that RwandAir had incurred heavy losses resulting from fines linked to fake entry visas carried by Nigerians travelling to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The report claimed that the Rwandan national carrier had made heavy losses in fines in just six months.
Under the international aviation rules guiding the Global Distribution System, the fines are paid by the airline which carried the individual.
“For every passenger that arrives in Dubai without a valid visa or is in possession of forged papers and ultimately turned back at the port of entry, the airline pays a penalty of $30,000,” the report is quoted, adding that RwandAir was planning to scrap Nigeria from its destinations.
After the 1994 genocide the government took several attempts to revive the former national carrier Air Rwanda that ceased operations during the genocide.
Various private companies showed interest in partnering with the government and Uganda based SA alliance air ran the company from 1997 to 2000.
After the company ceased operations to ensure continued operations of the airline the government took over and re branded the airline.
RwandAir began operations on 1 December 2002 as the new national carrier for Rwanda under the name Rwandair Express .
In 2016, RwandAir received International Air Transport Association’s Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO).
The airline began to expand regionally and by 2009 the network to included Dar-es-Salaam, Nairobi, and domestic destinations such as Gisenyi.
In March 2009, the airline registered a new trademark "RwandAir Ltd" which is its current operating name. In June 2009, the airline officially re-branded from Rwandair Express to RwandAir, because the new name implies a large, serious airline, while the "Express" in the former name implies a small regional operation.
In May 2010, Rene Janata became the CEO, introducing a frequent flyer program and developing the airline to become a network carrier. In October 2010, John Mirenge became the new CEO of RwandAir
In July 2010 the first of RwandAir's new Boeing 737-500's arrived; the second one arrived on 20 October 2010.
Both are leased from General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and each has a two class configuration with 12 business class seats.
In August 2011 the airline took delivery of their first aircraft purchased directly from an airline manufacturer. All prior aircraft operated by RwandAir have been either leased or bought as a second hand.
The aircraft purchased a Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior, also known as Boeing 737 Next Generation, and is the only one operating among African air carriers.
The flight departed from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, United States at 5:30 PM PST. It made its first stop in Keflavík International Airport in Iceland, then it headed for a second stop to Istanbul, Turkey. It finally arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, after a 20 hours flight.
In October 2011 RwandAir took delivery of their second Boeing Next-Generation 737-800.
During January 2012, the airline disposed of the two CRJ200 aircraft it owned, in anticipation of acquiring two CRJ-900NGs.
In February 2013, John Mirenge announced that the airline would fly to Accra, Cape Town, Harare, Juba and Zanzibar, in 2013.
In May 2015, Rwandair officially became an IATA member.
The airline has its head office on the top floor of the main building of Kigali International Airport. The airline previously had its head office in Centenary House in Kigali, before moving its operations to the airport in May 2010.
Rwandair is 99% owned by the Government of Rwanda.
Rwanda government hoped to privatize the airline after 2013, once it became profitable; the process had been abandoned in 2008, after it emerged that nobody at the time was willing to offer the amount expected from the sale.
RwandAir has been loss-making for a number of years. Detailed accounts do not appear to have been published, with only a few public announcements from senior management or the government giving details of the scale of the operation.
RwandAir serves the following destinations including codeshare destinations:
Brussels In Belgium - Brussels Airport
Cotonou In Benin - Cadjehoun Airport
Bujumbura In Burundi - Bujumbura International Airport
Douala In Cameroon - Douala International Airport
Brazzaville In Republic of the Congo - Maya-Maya Airport
Libreville In Gabon - Libreville International Airport
Accra In Ghana - Kotoka International Airport
Mumbai In India - Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport
Abidjan In Ivory Coast - Port Bouet Airport
Mombasa In Kenya - Moi International Airport
Nairobi In Kenya - Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Lagos In Nigeria - Murtala Muhammed International Airport
Cyangugu In Rwanda - Kamembe Airport
Kigali In Rwanda - Kigali International Airport
Johannesburg In South Africa - OR Tambo International Airport
Juba In South Sudan - Juba International Airport
Dar es Salaam In Tanzania - Julius Nyerere International Airport
Kilimanjaro in Tanzania - Kilimanjaro International Airport
Entebbe In Uganda - Entebbe International Airport
Dubai In United Arab Emirates - Dubai International Airport
London In United Kingdom - Gatwick International Airport – To Commence 26 May 2017
Lusaka In Zambia - Kenneth Kaunda International Airport
Harare In Zimbabwe - Harare International Airport
RwandAir codeshares with the following airlines:
• Brussels Airlines
• Ethiopian Airlines
• South African Airways
• Turkish Airlines
The RwandAir fleet comprises the following aircraft as of December 2016
• Airbus A330-200 1
• Airbus A330-300 1
• Boeing 737-700 2
• Boeing 737-800 3
• Boeing 787-8 1
• Bombardier CRJ900ER 2
• Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 2
• Total 12