IATA delegation soon to head to Rwanda

When in two weeks’ time a delegation from IATA will be in Kigali to formally present RwandAir with their IOSA Certificate, which catapulted the airline into the global elite of safety audited airlin

IATA delegation soon to head to Rwanda

When in two weeks’ time a delegation from IATA will be in Kigali to formally present RwandAir with their IOSA Certificate, which catapulted the airline into the global elite of safety audited airlines, guests from near and far will see a lot more than just the airline’s headquarters and operations. They will also see the “new” Kigali International Airport.

Rwanda may be a geographically smaller country, but it certainly has taken its place on the world scene and is by the general evaluation of many, using a pugilist term, punching well above its weight, and rightly so.

The Rwandan government has identified aviation as a key to economic success, being a landlocked country twice removed from the nearest deep sea ocean port of Mombasa, through which most of the imports and exports are routed. Tourism is the biggest foreign exchange earner and has been for several years, outpacing agriculture, the mining and the service industry, as Rwanda has also established itself as a regional ICT hub.

RwandAir and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, both fall under the same home ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and while clearly functioning independently of each other, as the regulator and the regulated should be, is a greater force at work here, superimposing national goals.

While RwandAir, with the full backing of the government, which owns all the shares in the company, has over the past three years progressively expanded operations, destinations and the fleet, now operating two B737-800NG SkyInterior, two B737-700NGs, two Bombardier CRJ900 NextGens and one Bombardier Q400 NextGen, the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) has played their role in expanding and modernizing the existing Kigali International Airport.

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In spite of plans to build a brand-new second airport in Bugesera, some 20 kilometers outside the capital, which should be ready for operations by 2018, the RCAA, which besides being the national aviation regulator is also managing the country’s airports, has spent megabucks in upgrading and expanding Kigali International, previously known as Kanombe International, to provide much needed extra space. Not only do more airlines now fly to Kigali than ever before, the latest entrant being flydubai, besides Brussels Airlines, KLM, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, and South African Airways to name but a few, but the growth of RwandAir itself made larger spaces inevitable. The national airline of the “Land of a Thousand Hills” now carries well in excess of half a million passengers, many of them in transit to their final destination, be it West Africa, South Africa, the Gulf, or the entire Eastern African region with a total of 16 destinations.

Two more aircraft will join the fleet in 2015 and 2016, adding yet more growth, and the Rwandan government took early steps to avoid the perennial congestion Nairobi suffered for several years before the new Terminal 1A was opened a few months ago, or Entebbe where the airport has reached its limits.

Aviation, like everything else in Rwanda, follows a master plan, which while tweaked and adjusted as need arises has brought about a holistic approach, where the national airline and the main airport are backed and financed for expansion side by side, allowing for a success story to be written and a new feather put in to the national cap when IATA hands over the IOSA Certificate on December 10.

Good governance, good discipline, and good fortunes, all coming together to make this happen, as the “Land of [a lot more than just] a Thousand Hills” continues to shine as an African success story, one that not only includes aviation but has it as a centerpiece of future development.

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