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Rwandair restores Johannesburg flight, as Rwanda builds more rooms

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Aug 14, 2008

When the Rwandan national airline, Rwandair, returned its ACMI-leased B737-500 to Air Malawi a few months ago, its regular flights between Kigali and Johannesburg had to be suspended due to lack of suitable aircraft. Last week, however, the airline concluded a fresh lease arrangement for a B737-300, which once commencing operations, will allow the resumption of the South Africa flights.

To cover the gap that the returned B737 left in the fleet, Rwandair then leased a CRJ100ER from Kenyan airline Jetlink and another Bombardier Dash 8 to maintain at least their regional schedule. The newly-leased B737-300 is due in mid to late September according to sources. Other contacts within the airline also confirmed that they were planning to acquire additional aircraft in coming years to widen their network.

In confirmation of information published in recent weeks the airline’s executive chairman, Gerald Zirimwabagabo, also made reference earlier in the week to the planned cooperation with Fly540/Lonrho Aviation, indicating that negotiations are well near complete and a fully-fledged partnership was now imminent. This will ultimately result in selling a 49 percent shareholding to the new investors and constitute a further stepping stone in establishing Fly540 as a regional force to reckon with.

It would also appear that the acrimonious suspension of the code share agreement between Kenya Airways and Rwandair on the Nairobi route over the use of the leased CRJ100 may have put to rest any last opportunity for KQ to step into the fray after Brussels Airlines failed to submit the required financial proposals and effectively dropped their bid for a partnership with Rwandair two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, over the past five years the number of hotel, lodge and resort rooms across Rwanda has grown by an impressive 37 percent, adding more choices for the ever increasing number of visitors to the country. The figures were released by the Rwanda National Office for Tourism and National Parks during the week.

The development speaks volumes about Rwanda’s determined effort to promote investments and tourism in the country and their ability to attract major foreign investments, besides encouraging domestic investment in the sector.

The anticipated arrival of Dubai World’s new US$250 million investment package in the hospitality sector, i.e. a new true five-star hotel in Kigali – cum golf course – and new lodges in the Virunga and Nyungwe National Parks, will add further rooms on the safari circuit and the city while their planned rehabilitation of the existing Akagera Lodge in the centre of the Akagera National Park will add renewed vigour and quality to that part of the country.

Rwandair restores Johannesburg flight, as Rwanda builds more rooms
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