At exactly 1:45 pm local time last Friday, RwandAir’s CRJ Bombardier Q 900 Next generation took to the skies as the airline launched its maiden flight to Cotonou, Benin.
On board were more than 50 passengers most of them business personalities and tourists. The business community hailed the national carrier’s decision to fly to Benin saying it is an opportunity that will help promote trade and tourism between the two countries.
The flights to Cotonou are currently tagged to the existing Kigali -Douala and Libreville, and are part of the strategy to enhance connectivity between East Africa and West Africa, Alex Buterere, the RwandAir senior manager in charge of grounds operations, said.
Last week, the airline announced it was to start conducting flights to Cotonou and Abidjan in Ivory Coast this month and early October respectively.
The airline will fly to Cotonou and Abidjan thrice a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, while the return flights will be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“With the addition of these two destinations, RwandAir continues to fulfill its mission of connecting Rwanda with West Africa to build sustainable ties among sister African cities, which will foster trade and tourism between the two countries,” said Paul Nyirubutama, the RwandAir chief operating officer and deputy chief executive officer in an interview with The New Times last week.
Cotonou and Abidjan routes has increased the airline’s growing network to 19 destinations. Currently, the airline flies to more than 17 destinations, including Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Lusaka, Juba, Douala, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Johannesburg, Dubai, Lagos, Libreville and Brazzaville, among others.
The national carrier is awaiting delivery of two new A330-200 and A330-300 Airbus wide body aircraft in September and November, respectively.
Aviation players say the acquisition of the two aircraft will significantly enhance RwandAir’s capacity to meet the growing demand, especially as the national carrier prepares to open routes to Asia and European markets.
The airline renewed its IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification for another two years to remain competitive. IOSA certification is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.