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, which was first carried by The Guardian and later picked by different websites, 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.
Source:The East African