Since December 2002, when it began operations, RwandAir experienced steady growth and expansion, which many now refer to as a regional success. With just 12 aircraft flying to 29 destinations, RwandAir is one of the fastest-growing airlines in Africa. It also operates one of the youngest and state-of-the-art fleets in Africa, having an average fleet age of 7.4 years.
Looking at some of its recent activities and partnerships, without a doubt, RwandAir is charting its course to become a dominant player in the African aviation industry. As Rwanda positions itself as a stable, business-friendly country open to investment and tourists alike, it understands that it will become increasingly important for the nation to have an airline that connects it with Africa and the rest of the world.
In June 2019, RwandAir launched a long-awaited service to the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Guangzhou became RwandAir’s second destination in Asia after Mumbai, which was introduced back in April 2017. The Kigali to Guangzhou route is an extension of RwandAir’s Kigali to Mumbai service, connecting Mumbai and Guangzhou with fifth freedom flights.
In February 2020, Qatar Airways confirmed the purchase of a 49% stake in RwandAir. This came after the Middle Eastern carrier agreed to take a 60% stake in the new Bugesera airport (east of Kigali), a project worth nearly $1.3bn and initially scheduled for completion in 2020.
The partnership will give RwandAir, which has reported close to $50m in losses each year since 2010, a solid technical and financial partner able to support its development and hub strategy as well as an increased range. Qatar Airways will also benefit from the deal since future relations will allow the carrier to bypass an embargo that forces all its flights to Africa to avoid its Gulf neighbors – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt.
It is quite obvious that RwandAir is pursuing a strategy similar to that of Ethiopian across the African continent. Though the yearly losses are a point of concern, their vision is clear and their strategy to prove profitable should yield success in the future as is evidenced by the growth so far.