VILLAGE URUGWIRO-The chief executive of Turkish Airlines, Temel Kotil, and his delegation, yesterday, paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro to brief him on the airline’s plans to open a new route to Kigali.
Turkish Airlines plans to open the Kigali route by April next year as well as an operations office as part of the company’s expansion plans.
Speaking to the media after meeting President Kagame, Kotil said that Turkish Airlines will launch its services before the end of this year, beginning with a partnership with RwandAir and later in April 2012, launch the Istanbul-Kigali route.
“As Turkish Airlines, we visited the President and held excellent talks with him. We discussed several issues but the most important of these is that we want to start our services here,” Kotil said.
Hopefully 8 months from now, in April 2012, we will start the Istanbul-Kigali route. We are going to connect Kigali not only to Istanbul but also 72 other cities in Europe, including Russia, the Far East and many other parts of the world.”
Kotil said that undoubtedly, the Rwandan people and foreigners who would wish to travel to Rwanda will enjoy the airline’s renowned world class services.
The Turkish Airlines boss disclosed that the European airline has entered a partnership with the national carrier RwandAir, to provide it with support in capacity building and fleet maintenance among several other services.
“We know that Rwanda is a very important place. It is on the heart of Africa and we see this place as a hub,” Kotil said.
“We are covering the whole of Africa. Already we are in 17 cities. We are a very large airline and Rwanda is a beautiful country that is emerging, the reason we chose the Rwandan market.”
The airline operates 142 international destinations including 17 in Africa and according to Kotil, the company added Kigali on its destinations because of a growing number of travellers from Africa and Rwanda in particular, mainly for business.
Kotil pointed out that the airline’s expansion to Kigali is part of the bilateral pact between Turkey and Rwanda that would see the two countries cooperate in different areas.
He noted that Turkish Airlines targets to become the world’s leading airline, with an ambitious investment plan of over US$7.5bn this year alone.
The Minister of Infrastructure Albert Nsengiyumva said that Turkey is one of the world’s emerging markets and the opening of the route would benefit the country’s business community.
“The coming of Turkish Airlines to Rwanda will not only benefit the business community but also our young and growing airline, RwandAir which will learn from its much bigger partner in different ways,” Nsengiyumva said.
He said that Turkish Airlines and RwandAir are working on a code-sharing agreement which will benefit the local airline because Turkish Airlines connects to the rest world of the world.
According to the CEO of RwandAir, John Mirenge, the code-sharing deal will see the two airlines choose which routes they can serve each other.
“Since our network is growing mainly in the African region, it will be very easy to tap passengers from different parts and then channel them through Turkish Airlines to wherever they are going,” Mirenge said.