Last week, the national carrier, RwandAir made their inaugural landing at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar as part of the airline’s growing network of routes. The airline used one of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft to fly the route, bringing to an end Qatar Airways’ Kigali-Doha route that had been operational for over nine years. RwandAir will operate the route three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with flight code WB300. The development is facilitated by the codeshare agreement recently signed between RwandAir and Qatar Airways where the two companies will offer global travellers greater choice, comfort and connectivity. Yvonne Makolo Chief Executive of RwandAir told The New Times in an exclusive interview that, through the route, Rwandans will be able to take advantage of our seamless connections from Doha to over 40 destinations across the Qatar Airways network. The development, according to her, comes at a time Rwanda nationals do not require any prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival to the Gulf nation. This, as Makolo put it, “Will be a great opportunity for exports and more so transporting of perishable goods.” Looking at Africa’s aviation prospects for recovery, connecting more of Africa to the world, in the new route allows passengers from Qatar’s airport travel to more than 25 destinations across Africa, Europe, and Asia. Particularly, for RwandAir, Makolo disclosed that the airline is banking on intra-African travel, as the market is still largely underserved. Other factors presenting huge prospects include cargo opportunities, and the implementation of the Intra African Free Trade Area. Doha becomes the fourth destination RwandAir has added to its map since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. They include Bangui in Central African Republic, and Goma and Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The airline had resumed service to 19 of 26 of the destinations it served two years ago, by October this year. And current data indicate that African demand has recovered faster than long haul demand. Fruitful ties Rwanda enjoys deep-rooted ties of friendship with Qatar and the direct flight is yet another milestone, according to Rwanda’s Ambassador to Qatar, Francois Nkulikiyimfura. The ambassador told The New Times that the relationship has been expanding in various fields and translated into the signing of Agreements in various sectors, such as the financial, the hospitality industry, education, and aviation. Nkulikiyimfura observed that, like many countries, Rwanda was severely impacted by the Covid pandemic, causing a slowdown in all sectors of our economy. He pointed out that new estimates show that the resumption of growth will be gradual in many sectors. “Therefore, we would like to attract companies from Qatar to invest in key priority sectors such as financial services, agribusiness, hospitality industry, real estate and construction, mining among others.” “Kigali International Financial Centre recently announced the establishment of the $250 million Pan African Fund, The Virunga Africa Fund I, which will invest in vital sectors that will drive economic transformation across Africa. We invite Qatar and Rwanda business communities to strengthen their partnership and tap into this Fund and invest in those sectors,” he asserted. Nkulikiyimfura also weighed in on the codeshare agreement, calling on the Rwandan business community to leverage on the opportunity and explore investment opportunities within Qatar and the cooperation council for the Arab states of the gulf (GCC) region.