Rwanda’s national carrier, RwandAir, has finally signed a contract with European plane maker Airbus for the purchase of two A330 aircraft, becoming its first-ever client in east Africa.
RwandAir’s A330s will be delivered in the second half of 2016 and will be equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 772B engines.
The two aircraft will feature a three class cabin layouts. The A330-200 will have 244 seats (20 business class, 21 premium and 203 economy class) and the A330-300 will have 274 seats (30 business class, 21 premium and 223 economy class).
“As we look to introduce wide body aircraft for the first time into our fleet, with its proven economics, reliability and passenger comfort, we have found the A330 to perfectly support our plans to expand into Europe and Asia, to enhance our regional presence, to open up new routes and to grow our market share,” said RwandAir CEO John Mirenge.
“We are also delighted to have these aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce, as the Trent 700 engine delivers the most efficient and reliable power, and will maximise the revenue earning potential of our new aircraft.”
Rwandair is relatively smaller when compared with other carriers on the continent like Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.
“We are extremely pleased that RwandAir has confirmed its confidence in the A330, and are happy to welcome them as a new A330 customer,” said Christopher Buckley, executive vice president, Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific.
The purchase by RwandAir is expected to increase competition for other airlines in the region including KQ and Ethiopian which are also undergoing fleet expansion and modernisation.
Rwanda in December signed a pact with Uganda and South Sudan to establish a legal framework for negotiations that would see local airlines attaining fifth freedom rights along Juba-Nairobi, Nairobi-Juba routes.
In aviation, fifth freedom rights mean an airline is allowed to carry passengers from one country to another and from that country to a third country.
The three countries signed the deal to create a legal framework before they could negotiate with Kenya on an airspace agreement which would subsequently be signed by ministers in charge of infrastructure.