(eTN) – Information was received last week that the national airline of Rwanda, RwandAir, will have flight information via mobile phone available for their passengers when they activate a SMS facility via MTN and TIGO in Rwanda, through which information can be ascertained about flight times. It is understood that plans are advanced already to introduce the same services in Uganda and Burundi, followed by Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, where final touches are being put in place to offer this facility to all passengers flying with RwandAir or else wishing to obtain this type of information on their phone handsets.
WAP or browser-enabled phones are required to access the flight details. The airline also announced that the introduction of the Internet booking mechanism via their website is now only a short time away, which will give passengers not using the services of a travel agent the facility to pay securely by using a credit card.
Meanwhile, in a related development, it was learned that the Rwanda government expects the airline to break even over the next three years before starting to turn profitable, at which stage the presently shelved privatization plans will be re-activated. Financial suitors or strategic investors are, of course, more likely to buy into a financially-healthy RwandAir. Information from Kigali, in fact, speaks of plans by government to invest, until the airline will be partially sold off, nearly US$100 million, some expenditure of which has already taken place when the airline bought two CRJ200 jets, including a maintenance support package, from Germany’s Lufthansa, while more funds will be injected when the two ordered B737-800s will be delivered in a year’s time.
The time frame for privatization will also very likely correspond with the projected opening of the newly-planned international airport, which is due to be constructed under a public–private partnership and may open as early as 2014.