The aforementioned activities are enshrined in the carrier’s performance contracts for resumed operations and recovering the economics affected by COVID-19 pandemic which left RwandAir suspending flights for five months from March until August 2020.
Supporting the expansion of RwandAir to improve operations is part of 2020/2021 performance contracts signed by the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA).
The contracts incorporate clauses stating that RwandAir is ready to increase the number of passengers next year to 813,087 from 804,978 carried in 2019/2020.
This will be possible through attracting more travelers through advertisements of RwandAir, starting flights to new destinations and entering partnerships with other carriers to expand operations.
The national carrier plans to increase destinations from the current 29 to 30.
This will be based on signing Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA).
Rwanda’s parliament recently approved agreements with five countries allowing RwandAir to start new destinations.
The agreements were signed between Rwanda and respective countries including Brasilia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, Somalia and Tunisia. This brought the total number of countries that signed similar agreements with Rwanda to 52.
Preparations to sign more agreements with South Korea and Malta are underway.
RwandAir also plans to increase the number of aircrafts from 12 to 13 buying a new cargo aircraft ‘Boeing 737-800’.
RwandAir management in November 2020 announced that it resumed flights at 70% for existing destinations before Covid-19 outbreak which gives hope for new plans to materialize.
The Government of Rwanda has increased the budget allocated to RwandAir operations to mitigate COVID-19 effects.
This saw the budget rise to Rwf 145.1 billion in 2020/2021 fiscal year from Rwf 121.8 billion of last year.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN), Dr Ndagijimana Uzziel recently told the parliament that opting for air cargo flights is the remedy for Rwanda’s nature of being a landlocked country.
“As a landlocked country, we have no other options for cross border trade without using the space and funding RwandAir to start flights to new destinations to represent the country’s reputation and promote diplomacy,” he said.
Rwanda has so far invested approximately US$2 billion to lift RwandAir’s operations. In February this year, Qatar Airways announced that discussions were ongoing to buy 49% shares in RwandaAir.
The deal is considered a great development to improve operations considering the reputation of Qatar Airways.The latter won four prestigious prizes at 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards, including the highest accolade of ‘World’s Best Airline’ – becoming the only airline in the competition’s history to win it five times (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019).
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently announced that aviation companies will earn US$419 billion this year from US$838 billion of last year.