RwandAir has given the clearest indication yet that the first route for their Airbus A330 – when deliveries start in September this year – will be Mumbai. According to the information received yesterday, the Indian city will be initially served four times a week out of Kigali, with convenient connections for passengers arriving from West Africa and also from the airline’s Eastern and Southern African destinations.
The routing provided however has raised some questions as a flight from Kigali to Mumbai via Dar es Salaam has been on the horizon before. At the time the objections were raised from moribund national carrier Air Tanzania, following which fifth freedom traffic rights were withheld by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, impacting on the commercial viability of the route, which clearly depends on added traffic for India out of Tanzania.
A direct air link between the two Eastern African countries and Mumbai will however benefit both Tanzania and Rwanda, in terms of trade relations and for tourism purposes also, considering the large ethnic source market in Tanzania and subsequent VFR [short for Visiting Friends and Relatives] travel.
RwandAir last year ordered two Airbus A330 aircraft to allow the airline to commence intercontinental services. Besides Mumbai, a destination in China, most likely Guangzhou, and a destination in Europe were also mentioned, once the second aircraft joins the fleet in December 2016. The two Airbus aircraft, one -200 and one -300 variant, will, according to information received at the time the purchase agreement was signed, be offering a three class layout of Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy.
The airline also expects delivery this year of two more Boeing B737-800s at dates still to be confirmed, but expected to be well before the first A330 enters service. This will allow RwandAir to strengthen their Africa network with more destinations and more flight frequencies on routes with high demand, and generate additional traffic into Kigali to join their planned long haul flights. The RwandAir fleet, when the four new aircraft are delivered this year, will grow by 50 percent, sharply raising the profile of the airline and turning Kigali into a significant new hub on the continent.
After the expansion of the passenger terminal space over the past two years, the is work presently ongoing to construct a separate taxiway, aimed to raise the airport’s ability to handle more take-offs and landings.
RwandAir destinations out of Kigali presently are Kamembe, the airline’s only domestic destination, and Lusaka, in combination with Johannesburg in Southern Africa. In East Africa RwandAir serves Bujumbura, Juba via Entebbe, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam. West African destinations are Brazzaville, Libreville, Douala, Lagos and Accra. Dubai is served both nonstop and via Mombasa.