Efforts by the national flag carrier, RwandAir, to expand its footprint across West Africa have been boosted after it was granted fifth freedom right by Nigerian aviation authorities. The bilateral airspace service agreement means that RwandAir can now operate another route into Nigeria to Abuja and also ply the Abuja-Yaoundé route without any limitations.
According to a statement from the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Transportation, the national carrier can now fly into Abuja, and also pick Yaoundé (Cameroon) bound passengers without restrictions. “…to convey the Honourable Minister of State (aviation) approval for RwandAir to operate additional entry point into Abuja and the right to exercise 5th freedom traffic right between Abuja and Yaoundé in Cameroon,” the letter signed by Eng Hassan Musa, the director air transport management on behalf of Nigeria’s State Minister for Aviation, reads in part.
The fifth freedom right means that an airline has the right to carry passengers from one country to another and from that country to a third country.
RwandAir already operates the Lagos routes. The Abuja route is expected to be opened in January 2018.
The development is a big boost to RwandAir’s quest to expand its footprint on the continent, according to airline officials.
Rwanda recently concluded the negotiation and signing of the bilateral air service agreement with Cape Verde, opening more potential market opportunities for RwandAir and Rwanda’s private sector.
Other planned routes
The national carrier is planning to launch flights to New York, in the US and other Asian destinations next year. On the African front, the airline plans to fly to Conakry in Guinea, Bamako in Mali as well as Dakar, Senegal. Other planned destinations are Lilongwe in Malawi and Durban in South Africa.
Last year, the airline acquired its first A330 series (A330-200 and A330-300 Airbus aircraft) to boost its fleet and capacity to compete globally.
The IATA Operational Safety Audit certified airline carried more than 650,000 passengers last year and projects to transport over three million travellers in the next five years.