After launching services to London Gatwick and adding a fourth Boeing 737-800N to the fleet last month, RwandAir is banking on its wider African markets to feed its burgeoning long haul network.
Gatwick is the carrier’s second long haul route after Mumbai, and will be operating three times a week. Guangzhou, originally planned for launch last November, is now slated for launch during the third quarter.
The carrier’s African network will see the addition of Bamako (Mali), Conakry (Guinea) and Dakar (Senegal) in the third quarter of this year while 2018, could the airline commence flights to New York.
RwandAir carried more than 650,000 passengers last year, a number it plans to grow to more than three million over the next five years.
“Our strategy is to tap into the emerging African markets. We shall be increasing flights into Harare, Lusaka and other markets whose flow into London is high,” said Jimmy Musoni, head of commercial planning at Rwandair.
He says the new developments are part of its mid-term strategy.
“The London route is one of the most strategic for us as an airline and the country. It will greatly help in connecting with other cities. The prospects are there because the demand is there,” he adds.
The destination being served by the Airbus A330 fleet brings to 22 the number of destinations while the fleet is now at 12 aircraft.
Mr Musoni is also banking on projected growth in Africa’s passenger air traffic. Recent data released by ForwardKeys, a body that tracks global airlines data, revealed that arrivals in East Africa grew 16.4 per cent between September 2016 and January, while arrivals into Africa grew by 10.3 per cent.
The top ten origin countries for East Africa destined flights continued to show an upward trend, with the UK growing by 14.8 per cent with a 10.4 per cent origin share, Germany 14.5 per cent, the US 17.7 per cent and the UAE scoring 33.6 per cent with a 2.7per cent origin share.
Rwanda has seen a surge in the number of tourists visiting over the past few years, after the country positioned itself as a MICE destination which was possible thanks to improved hospitality industry and conference amenities.
The tourism industry generated $404 million in 2016 and it is projected to contribute $444 million to Rwanda’s economy in 2017.