Plans by RwandAir to enter the US and European aviation markets have been strengthened by the acquisition of another Airbus 330-300 that arrives in the country today.
The airline’s officials said the plane, Christened Umurage, is expected to land at the Kigali International Airport today at 4pm local time.
John Mirenge, the RwandAir chief executive, said the Airbus manufacturer handed over the brand new aircraft to the national airline officials in Toulouse, France yesterday. The Airbus 330-300 is so far the biggest in the airline’s fleet and the third acquisition in less than three months.
Mirenge said the 274-seater, wide-bodied aircraft will be the first of its kind in East Africa, adding that the plane further enhances the capacity of Africa’s fastest growing airline to expand its footprint across the globe.
“We are now set to compete globally,” Mirenge said, adding that the airline has been growing at an average of 20 per cent in the last six years and is currently positioning itself as the ‘most efficient and reliable’ airline in the region. With the new airplane, RwandAir’s fleet has now reached 12 aircraft.
The airline recently acquired Africa’s first Boeing 737-800 Next Generation (Kalisimbi), which is equipped with in-flight connectivity on a line-fit programme, including WiFi. Earlier, in September, the national carrier acquired East Africa’s first Airbus 330-200, popularly known as Ubumwe.
About new aircraft
The new airline is cost-effective, highly efficient, offering flexibility and optimised performance, making it a perfect choice for RwandAir. It also offers more personal space and modern long-haul comfort and is fitted with 18-inch wide seats in economy class, and the latest in-flight entertainment, including video-on-demand, and mobile phone and email connectivity via satellite. The aircraft remains the preferred choice for over 100 airlines worldwide, including RwandAir.
In December last year, RwandAir signed a lease agreement with Aircraft Lease Corporation, an American-based lessor, to acquire two new Boeing 737-800 Next Generation planes, one of which has already been delivered, while the second is expected in May next year.
RwandAir obtained its ISAGO, IATA safety audit for ground operations certification early last month. It is also IOSA certified, confirming that its operational management and control systems meet international civil aviation safety and other standards.
The airline flies to 19 destinations – Cotonou in Benin, Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Lusaka, Juba, Douala, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Cotonou, Johannesburg, Dubai, Lagos, Libreville and Brazzaville. It is set to open routes to Harare in Zimbabwe and Mumbai, India soon.
RwandAir projects to ferry more than three million passengers annually in the next five years, from 500,000 travellers presently.