Passenger traffic to grow by 25pc this year, says Rwanda CAA

Friday September 20 2013

Passengers boarding RwandAir at Kigali International Airport. Photo/File

Passenger traffic at the Kigali International Airport is expected to grow by 25 per cent at the close of this year largely driven by increase in flights by both the national carrier and international airlines.

However, aviation experts warn that the increase in passenger traffic is likely to exert more pressure on the small airport built to handle few domestic and international travellers.

The experts base their argument on the fact that the airport with a capacity to handle 300,000 passengers recorded 500,000 passengers and the number is projected to hit a 600,000 mark which is two times the capacity.

Dr Richard Masozera, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) managing director has allayed the fears saying that the current expansion of the airport terminal building will increase the airport capacity to handle 1.5 million passengers annually.

The project will be handed over to CAA before the May next year. “The expansion will also double our departures and arrivals, and provide more space for modern lounges which will change passengers’ experience and make the industry more competitive,” said Dr Masozera.

The surge in passenger numbers is also attributed to the open sky policy and several bilateral air service agreements the country has entered into with many operators.


International carriers like KLM, Turkish Airlines, Brussels Air, Qatar Airline, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Uganda are already using Kigali International Airport and more are expected.

ALSO READ: Rwanda, Burundi sign air service deal to boost trade

As international airlines expand their operations in Rwanda, the government is investing in RwandAir, the national carrier to play a leading role.

The plan is to expand the fleet from seven narrow-bodied aircraft to 12, and another three wide-bodied aircraft. The investments not only positions the airline to be competitive on the shorter regional routes but also international destinations.

According to government officials, the fleet expansion will help the airline grow its annual turnover from the current $46 million Rwf30 billion to more than $350 million (Rwf300 billion) by 2018. RwandAir’s destinations will also grow from the current 15 to at least 25.

But the government is also investing in Rwf393 billion airport at Bugesera. The airport will link Rwanda to the export market when complete in 2017.

READ: New Rwanda airport ready for take-off

However, Roger Forneris, a French investor in the aviation industry warns developing economies against constructing big airports arguing they may not attract the air traffic needed to make them viable and recoup returns on investments.

Mr Forneris, a director of Aeroports De Lyon, a French company that deals in aircraft business was part of the French delegation in Kigali recently.

He says the geographical location of an economy, coupled with technology and security are the drivers of aviation businesses.

But Dr Masozera insists that it is important for Africa’s aviation sector to reposition itself in line with the current global aviation requirements to remain competitive.
“This requires a lot of investments into the industry to make it a significant contributor towards the continent’s development,” he said.

The Rwanda CAA is banking on the current drive by government to position the country as a regional medical hub as a driver of flights and passenger numbers.
Rwanda is looking on to the aviation industry to drive its economy by creating more employment opportunities for the people.