The national carrier, RwandAir, on Thursday started operating direct flights between Entebbe in Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya, one of East Africa’s busiest routes.
This is the first time the national carrier is operating the route after RwandAir acquired the fifth freedom rights from the governments of Uganda and Kenya.
The development also follows a recent bilateral agreement between Rwanda and Kenya, allowing RwandAir and Kenya Airways fifth freedom rights between the Entebbe-Nairobi and Entebbe-Kigali routes.
“Travellers should be assured of the quality of aircraft, quality of service, affordability and punctuality with which we shall run this route,” RwandAir CEO John Mirenge told reporters at Entebbe International Airport.
The entry of RwandAir on this route brings in tight competition especially since Kenya Airways, the region’s biggest carrier had dominated the route for a longtime.
“This is an opportunity to offer choices between Nairobi and Entebbe. We are adding value to this route because competition promotes efficiency and value for money,” he said.
Mirenge said the connectivity will lead to economic development, adding that they have plans to begin more routes like Entebbe – Dar es Salaam, Entebbe – Bujumbura, and Entebbe – Johannesburg.
Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda Frank Mugambage reiterated government’s commitment to supporting the national carrier.
He said increased air transport will help promote trade and tourism sectors.
Filling the gap
Last year, RwandAir was granted similar rights to operate direct flights on the Entebbe-Juba (South Sudan) route following the suspension of Air Uganda’s licence by the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority.
Uganda’s Transport minister Eng. Abraham Byandala said that with the suspension of Air Uganda, the operations of RwandAir on the route came as a huge relief to Ugandans who make daily trips to Nairobi.
“Regional integration is on course and we are starting to work as one country. We encourage businesses to follow suit,” Byandala said.
On the possible resumption of the defunct Uganda Airlines, the minister said there were efforts to identify a private company that will run the airline.
According to Gobena Mikael, the RwandAir general manager, Commercial, the route will be operated by state-of-the-art Next Generation dual class Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft which guarantees safety and great comfort, especially on such short haul routes.
With a promotional fare of $250, Mikael said flights are scheduled to depart at 9am from Entebbe and, at 9pm, from Nairobi, primarily catering for the demands of business and the short stay travellers.