Information was received recently that RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, has completed its due diligence for the purchase of several CRJ aircraft from Germany’s Lufthansa, which is phasing out those jets and replacing them with larger aircraft.
The 50-seater CRJs have gained popularity in the region, with Jetlink of Kenya already operating four of the sleek aircraft, while Fly540 and Air Uganda are said to be introducing them shortly on their main routes.
RwandAir is to add at least two of the CRJs to its fleet before the end of the year to expand its network and add frequencies to its main destinations in Eastern and Southern Africa. The CRJ currently wet leased from Kenya’s Jetlink will most likely return to the lessors, when their own aircraft are delivered, registered and cleared for flight.
In a related development, it was also learned that Rwandan pilots are presently receiving training for the CRJs where they expect to be deployed as first officers and captains. The trainees include one Rwandan lady pilot, following in the footsteps of Kenya Airways, which has been employing female pilots now for some time. Other positions open for Rwandese nationals are among the technical and maintenance staff.
The deal with Lufthansa for the two aircraft is worth about US$15 million, including a basic spares package.
RwandAir is already codesharing with Brussels Airlines (SN) on the Kigali to Brussels route and as SN is now formally part of the Lufthansa family, following recent approvals by the European Commission, the deal is now certainly more appealing than would otherwise have been the case.