Rwandair has launched its maiden flights to Douala, Cameroon, the 16th destination for the national carrier as it seeks to grow its network.
Speaking during the launch of the route on Sunday, John Mirenge, the RwandAir chief executive officer, said Cameroon was a key market in the West African region that presents Rwanda a lot of business opportunities.
“It’s a big nation with big capabilities. I encourage our businesspeople to fully take advantage of the opportunities in the country,” he said.
Mirenge said daily flights to Douala would soon be introduced, depending on the business exchange between the two countries.
He revealed that discussions were underway to start flights to Abidjan in Ivory Coast, thus linking Kigali to Libreville in Gabon, Douala and Abidjan.
With a route to Mumbai, India set to be launched this year, RwandAir targets to operate 25 routes in the coming five years, according to Mirenge.
“We have ordered for four new aircraft, two of which are 787 Dreamliners that will be delivered in 2017. This will allow us to start operating in Europe and China,” he said.
Speaking at the function, Ludovic Ngwag, the secretary general of Littoral region, where Douala city is located, noted that the route would open opportunities for citizens of the two countries.
The ceremony was presided over by Benjamin Gasamagera, the chairman of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation.
“We want to trade and also like to export our services. We believe we can also play a role in service-centred sectors like tourism and banking in Cameroon,” Gasamagera said.
Apart from domestic flights, RwandAir plies routes to regional cities including Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro. The airline also flies to Johannesburg in South Africa, Dubai, Lagos in Nigeria, Accra in Ghana, Juba in South Sudan, Libreville in Gabon and Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.
Major cash crops of Cameroon include coffee, palm oil, tea, sugar, tobacco and rubber. It also has flourishing petroleum and timber industries.