As the uncertainty over European air traffic continued into the fourth day on Sunday, foreigners are now forced to stay longer in Kigali hotels as direct flights to Rwanda have been canceled.
This comes as air travel across much of Europe was paralyzed into the fourth day, on Sunday, by a huge cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland that has closed most of Europe’s airspace and continues to spread.
“Direct flights to Kigali have been affected and, again, we have people who are staying longer in hotels because they don’t see any point in leaving to go and stay in Nairobi,”
Richard Masozera, the Director General of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) told The New Times late Sunday.
The RCAA boss noted that no people are coming in from, or leaving for, continental Europe and USA.
“We have had some cancellations – SN Brussels didn’t come in the other night. At the same time, we normally get people coming in from the US and Europe but now we are not getting people from continental Europe and US. And, it is both ways,” Masozera said.
Rica Rwigamba, the head of tourism and conservation in the newly restructured Rwanda Development Board (RDB) says the country’s tourism sector has not been affected.
“Tourism is seasonal and this is our low season – if it (cancellation of flights) continues, it will definitely affect us but I don’t really see us being affected, unless if it continues into the high season,” said Rwigamba.
She explained that Rwanda’s tourism low season is “pretty much in the first quarter (of year) and the beginning of May” while the high season starts from mid-May to about October and that there is a very high season during January and December.
Since Thursday, countries across Europe either closed airspace or shut key airports as the volcanic ash – a mixture of glass, sand and rock particles – can damage aircraft engines. Airlines are estimated to be losing some USD200m daily.