Rwanda's national carrier RwandAir, and Airbus, yesterday, signed a purchase agreement for the two Airbus aircraft A330-200 and A330-300.
RwandAir becomes the first airline in East Africa to acquire this type of aircraft.
One of the planes has 261 seats and the other 300 seats, and will both come in a triple-class configuration with Rolls Royce Trent 772B engines.
They are expected to be delivered in September and December next year.
The A330 type of aircraft has an operational reliability of 99.4% and boasts efficiency for all market segments, thus making it a perfect match for RwandAir, according to airline officials.
This particular purchase order, according to Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the State Minister for Transport, will help RwandAir to expand its flight coverage to both Europe and East Asia by the end of next year.
“It will also enable the national carrier to take advantage of lower operating costs. This will enhance the airline’s profitability in the long run,” Nzahabwanimana said.
John Mirenge, the RwandAir chief executive, said the deal reaffirms the airline’s efforts to contribute to national economic development.
“The deal is proof of good micro- and micro-economic management and our reliability, passenger comfort, versatility and fuel efficiency, which will enhance our competitiveness in Africa and beyond,” Mirenge said.
The acquisition of these two wide-body aircraft will significantly increase RwandAir’s capacity to effectively meet growing demand and provide exceptional service quality for the ever-growing Asia-China and European passenger markets, he added.
Christopher Buckley, the Airbus’s executive vice-president for Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific, said the deal reaffirms the confidence between RwandAir and the manufacturer, which the two can now leverage to grow and thrive in aviation business.
Recently, both RwandAir and the Eastern and Southern Africa Bank (PTA Bank) signed a financial line of credit worth $160m to support the purchase of the two airlines.
There is hope that with two wide body aircraft, the airline’s capacity could grow from the current 500,000 passengers annually to more than 3 million in the next five years.
The two airlines will see RwandAir fleet grow to 12 planes.
The national carrier was early this year recognised as one of the safest airlines by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) after passing the operational safety audit (IOSA).
It later became a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), joining a club of 250 member airlines in more than 150 countries.
The airline flies to more than 18 destinations, including Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Lusaka, Juba, Douala, Dar-es-salaam, Kilimanjalo, Johannesburg, Dubai, Lagos, Libreville and Brazzaville, among others.