National carrier, RwandAir, is set to expand its fleet in order to serve planned routes in the region and long-haul routes, including in New York and China.
Yvonne Manzi Makolo, the airline’s Chief Executive, told The New Times that they were in the process of acquiring more aircraft to support airline’s expansion strategy.
RwandAir already operates a fleet of 12 aircraft comprising two Airbus A330s, six Boeing 737NGs, two Bombardier CRJs, and two Q400s.
This fleet could soon grow if the national carrier’s plans to acquire another set of aircraft materialises.
This is expected to put the airline on track to achieve its rapid expansion plans in a turbulent industry, which is also highly competitive.
Makolo had earlier told African Aerospace magazine in an interview that RwandAir was looking to phase out CRJs and instead focus on Q400s—positioned to exclusively serve the intra-African routes.
The airline also plans to lease two A330neos and two 737 Max 8s, which will be used for growth rather than replacement.
The A330neos will be deployed on long-haul routes to Guangzhou, China and New York JFK, as well as boosting capacity to Dubai, Lagos in Nigeria and Johannesburg in South Africa.
RwandAir officials said in the same interview that they had already secured an operating licence for Guangzhou, but waiting to establish whether the carrier had secured its preferred slots from the Chinese authorities. It targets May this year for its maiden launch.
RwandAir has clearance to serve New York on code-share and wet-lease basis—an arrangement where one airline provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance to another airline or other type of business acting as a broker of air travel (the lessee), which pays by hours operated.
This means that RwandAir can only fly to New York JFK if it enters a leasing agreement with another airline or broker, and it could only operate flights on a code-share basis.
However, the local authorities are currently undergoing the US Federal Aviation Authority audits. If successful, the airline would be allowed its own flights to the US city.
Meanwhile, the 737 Max 8s will be used to add services on Tel Aviv in Israel and other regional flights like that of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
Makolo told this paper that they had fully confirmed May as the launch of its commercial flights to Ethiopia’s capital. For Tel Aviv, she said, it is still in the process.
In the near future, the airline plans to ply to Khartoum (Sudan), Lilongwe (Malawi) and Luanda in Angola.