Thursday, 18 May 2017

RWANDA: More Destinations For RwandAir

RwandAir has now launched its seventh West Africa destination, Abidjan, as part of the airline’s continued rollout of new countries important to its strategy to connect Africa via Kigali.

This follows the start of commercial flights on Rwanda Air a month ago to Cotonou and both new destinations are expected to begin feeding traffic into the WB network via Kigali to Eastern and Southern Africa, Dubai and soon to India’s commercial capital of Mumbai.

The recently acquired first Airbus A330-200 by Rwanda Air is meanwhile making yet more maiden appearances across RwandAir’s network with the most recent deployment taking the new bird to Cotonou, Libreville and Douala, where travel agents, corporate clients, invited guests from government, diplomatic corps and the business community were able to tour the aircraft while it was on the ground in the respective cities.

Named ‘Ubumwe‘, a Kinyarwanda word for Unity, will the aircraft now commence commercial flights four times a week to Dubai first before the arrival of a second Airbus A330-300 in November will then pave the way to launch operations to Mumbai.

The airline is banking on the aircraft’s superior inflight comfort and three class cabin configuration which offers Business Class, a dedicated cabin for 21 Premium Economy Seats and an Economy Class with 18 inch seats, the widest presently on offer by commercial airlines.

RwandAir will put several schedule changes into place, aimed to make travel to and from Southern African countries faster and easier, and offering seamless connections into their trans-Africa network and to their new intercontinental destinations.

Johannesburg will revert to nonstop flights, with several traffic days earmarked for a second daily service between Kigali and South Africa’s commercial hub. This change will also facilitate onward travel to Cape Town or Durban – and vice versa – which the current schedule makes difficult at best.

Come January next year, RwandAir will put several schedule changes into place, aimed to make travel to and from Southern African countries faster and easier, and offering seamless connections into their trans-Africa network and to their new intercontinental destinations.

Johannesburg will revert to nonstop flights, with several traffic days earmarked for a second daily service between Kigali and South Africa’s commercial hub. This change will also facilitate onward travel to Cape Town or Durban – and vice versa – which the current schedule makes difficult at best.

New destination Harare, Zimbabwe will, when launched in mid January, be combined with Lusaka, Zambia in a standalone triangular service routing KGL – LUN – HRE – KGL. Flights will in fact be raised from the present three times a week to LUN to five flights a week at that stage January.

The introduction of long haul services to Mumbai and later in 2017 to London will see RwandAir tap into the market of connecting passengers with yet greater determination, to make sure that they can fill their new Airbus A330’s but also carry more traffic into their Eastern and West African networks.

All flights to South Africa will be operated on Boeing 737 aircraft and, while no confirmation has been received as yet, there is speculation that the flights from Kigali to HRE and LUN will see the Bombardier CRJ900 deployed on that route.

The lack of slots for flights from Kigali to London Heathrow is seen as the key reason why RwandAir is now eying Gatwick, the UK capital’s second busiest airport.

The airline’s CEO Mr. John Mirenge, while speaking in Abidjan / Ivory Coast after the official inaugural flight to RwandAir’s latest African destination, gave the clearest indication yet that by 2018 Europe will be on the map for Rwanda’s national carrier.

During the runup of the delivery ceremony of the airline’s first Airbus A330 in Toulouse a few weeks ago did Mr. Mirenge also mention that London may be combined with another European waypoint but would not commit if that could be Frankfurt or another European gateway. At present does RwandAir only operate in codeshare with Brussels Airlines to the European capital.

Following the delivery of two additional aircraft in November, a brand new Boeing B737-800NG and a larger Airbus A330-300 variant is a widening of destinations expected in both Africa and beyond with Mumbai the first intercontinental target of the airline’s relentless expansion drive, fully backed incidentally by the Rwanda government.

In a related development are results due to be announced very soon of the IATA audit on Safe Ground Operations, in short ISAGO, which will certify RwandAir’s ground handling unit to be compliant with global best practice and standards.