RwandAir, the national carrier, will start plying new routes to three West African cities at the end of September, officials have said. The three weekly flights to Conakry in Guinea, Bamako, Mali and Senegalese capital Dakar will be connected via the airline’s new hub in Cotonou, Benin, according to Chance Ndagano, the acting chief executive officer of RwandAir.
They commence on September 30. The airline already serves three other destinations via Cotonuo, including Libreville in Gabon, Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, and Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
RwandAir has been on an expansion drive and has already entered the European market with flights to London (Gatwick) and Brussels that started in May and July, respectively. The new routes will extend RwandAir’s network to 26 destinations across three continents. The airline also started flights to Mumbai and Harare this year as part of a strategy to expand its wings across the globe.
“The new Cotonou hub will be synchronised with the existing operations from Kigali allowing seamless connections to the rest of the RwandAir destinations on the African continent and beyond,” Ndagano told The New Times yesterday.
The governments of Benin and Rwanda signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint airline based in Cotonou.
Under the deal, RwandAir launched the new hub on August 1 after the country was granted seventh freedom rights by Benin, allowing the airline to operate an international air service from Cotonou to a third country.
Dakar, Bamako, and Conakry are some of the largest cities in West Africa, and are home to a vast multicultural heritage and rich history with museums and ancient mosques dating back from the time of the great African empires, according to officials. Therefore, the destinations present Africa’s fastest-growing airline immense business opportunities, and connecting the continent with the rest of the world.
“These latest additions are further proof of our commitment to improve connectivity on the African continent, and the will to create new opportunities for economic exchange, trade and tourism between countries with the aim of fostering economic development,” Ndagano noted.
More long-haul routes
Meanwhile, RwandAir is scheduled to launch flights to New York and new Asian destinations, including Guangzhou in China.
The airline recently acquired its first A330 series (A330-200 and A330-300 Airbus) aircraft to boost its fleet and capacity. Experts say RwandAir’s ambitious expansion strategy could help position it as a major aviation player in the next five years.
The IATA Operational Safety Audit certified airline carried more than 650,000 passengers last year and projects to transport over three million in the next five years.