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Kigali International Airport expansion underway

Passengers in a departure lounge at Kigali International Airport on June 18, 2019. / File

The suspension of aviation travel due to the Coronavirus pandemic has allowed the Government to embark on upgrades of major areas of the Kigali International Airport.

Rwanda Airports Company (RAC), charged with running operations of the airport, has said that the ongoing upgrade works will see the airport increase its aircraft parking capacity, arrival terminal and the runway strip.


“We are expanding the aircraft parking capacity and runway strip to increase the safety in case of unintentional excursion from the runway surface. We are also extending the arrival terminal,” Firmin Karambizi, the Managing Director of RAC told The New Times.


The arrival terminal will be extended to have an extra passenger processing area, allowing it to fully comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.


The target is to cut back on queues to expedite the flow of passengers and avoid congestion in the terminal area.

ICAO international standards for arrivals recommends countries to implement automated facilities for passenger and baggage processing, and installing mechanical people-moving devices, when walking distances and the traffic volume within and across terminal buildings so warrant.

They also recommend installing flight information systems capable of providing accurate, adequate and up-to-the-minute information on departures, arrivals, cancellations, delays, and terminal/gate allocations.

According to Karambizi, the service road (runway strip) will be 3.1 kilometres, while the parking capacity will allow the airport to accommodate 18 aircrafts at ago.

For more than three consecutive years (2014-2017), Kigali International Airport was ranked amongst the top ten best airports in Africa, based on customer service surveys.

RAC says that over $30 million has been invested in the upgrade of the airport during the last three years, allowing it to have a new apron, three taxiways, a hangar and an upcoming upgrade of airfield lighting.

Recent maintenance and upgrade activities were meant to reduce congestion at the check in and arrival areas, expand the departure lounge area, increase VIP comfort, and enhance baggage handling efficiency.

Activities were also intended to ease travelers’ movements within the terminal area, install facilities for people with special needs and increase the number of duty free outlets and the expanded shopping experience.

Home to RwandAir

Kigali International Airport is home to RwandAir, Rwanda’s national carrier, from where it holds a fleet of 12 aircraft and flies to 29 destinations across Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

RwandAir, one of the fastest airlines in Africa, has been receiving Government support. This week, the Government announced that it has budgeted at least Rwf145 billion for the carrier.

The increased funds would help the airline which was hit by the Coronavirus pandemic to recover and invest in its growth plans, including acquisition of new planes and expand destinations.

The airline was scheduled to sell 49 per cent stake to Qatar Airways, allowing it more capacity and leverage the Middle East airline’s network to expand operations across the world.

Qatar Airways already has made a substantial investment in airport infrastructure through Bugesera International Airport that is being built in Bugesera District.

In December last year, in the presence of President Paul Kagame and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar and Rwanda signed three agreements that saw the two parties set up a joint venture to build, own, and operate the airport.

The investment by the Qatari Government in the airport in Bugesera is expected to ultimately handle 14 million passengers annually, double Kigali International Airport’s current capacity.

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