Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir on Monday night made its inaugural direct flight to Tel Aviv in Israel, barely a week after launching its maiden flight to the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
It will make three flights out of Kigali International Airport to the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, a development that is set to increase traffic between Rwanda and the Middle East.
Many passengers aboard the inaugural non-stop flight on the 737-800 Next Generation aircraft expressed their joy for the cheaper and direct flight to the city of Tel Aviv.
Betty Mahugu who is a travel consultant called the development ‘a phenomenal experience” to be on the direct flight to Tel Aviv.
“I have been travelling to Israel since 1995 and we have been taking long hours to reach our destination as there were always stopovers which meant long hours to reach our final destination. But the short time taken now will be one of the best experiences,” she said before boarding.
She also noted that since there is a lot of religious tourism in Israel and also the wild animals and sceneries in Rwanda and East Africa as a whole, the direct flights between Kigali and Tel Aviv will boost a two-way traffic.
Another passenger who made it on the maiden flight to Tel Aviv, a lady who only identified herself as Kimberly from South Africa, recounted how she ended up on the flight.
She said that she was browsing for a convenient flight to Israel when the one of RwandAir popped up and it turned out to be a cheaper option.
“I am going to Israel to visit a friend and from what I have heard about the airline, it is really amazing and I can’t wait to get on that flight and be in Tel Aviv in just 6 hours and 10 minutes,’’ she said in a brief interview with The New Times before boarding.
Speaking at the launch, the CEO of RwandAir Yvonne Makolo expressed her delight for yet another milestone by the airline and said that the direct flight is going to strengthen ties between the two nations, bridge the gap between the different cultures and promote tourism.
“It is going to solidify our cooperation and it is going to benefit Rwanda through tourism, especially cultural tourism and it is great for our diplomacy; so having people come visit Rwanda and more Rwandans going to Israel is just great for the two nations,’’ she said.
She also attributed the growth of the airline to continued government support.
Also on board the maiden flight was the Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda, Ron Adam, who stressed the significance of the development to the ties between the peoples of the two countries.
“It signifies that the relationships are tightening and we need to look for more passengers coming from both sides, incoming and outbound tourism and also imports, exports and people are going to get more connected,’” he said.
He also noted that right now, Rwandans are going to start getting Israel visas as his embassy had already started issuing visas to Israel, adding that more Israel would be coming to Rwanda because of the accessibility that has been afforded by the direct flight.
The route becomes the airline’s 29th destination all over the world.