By Our reporter
On Saturday, RwandAir’s flight WB314 bound for Kigali from Abuja Nigeria made a stopover at Abidjan International Airport at 1400 hrs (Local Time Abidjan), where a team of senior Rwanda Government officials disembarked for an official State visit.
“Owing to the nature of the delegation, the aircraft was directed to a private military apron for swift handling and quick turn around,” reads a statement from RwandAir.
“The two key requirements for the turnaround - fueling services and ground handling services - were delayed as both suppliers required cash payment.
RwandAir had prior contractual arrangements with a local company on the ground, however, the team in charge of the apron where RwandAir aircraft was parked did not have any information from the local handling company in Abidjan”.
This in turn delayed the handling and fueling process.
Speaking from Abidjan, the CEO of RwandAir, John Mirenge, explained in an interview with The New Times, that such delays occur when an unscheduled flight makes a stopover.
“Chances of having a mix-up became a possibility as Rwandair is not a scheduled airline to Abidjan,” Mirenge said, stressing that there was no such thing as gunpoint.
“The Rwanda government officials were efficiently and professionally received by the Ivorian team on ground and ushered to the lounge, while other Kigali bound passengers remained on board.” the statement adds.
“We would like to assure all that at no time whatsoever were the lives of the passengers, RwandAir crew or staff in any danger”.
Once all was cleared with the handling agent, fuelling and other aspects were completed and the aircraft left for Kigali with a one-hour delay on top of the planned two hours on the ground.
The Rwandan delegation, comprising of top government officials and members of the business community led by Defence Minister, James Kabarebe, is in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital for a three-day visit to chart the way forward in the formation of a special joint partnership between the two countries.
The delegation is looking to deliberate key issues concerning the development of both countries which will cement the existing friendly relations.
“We shall discuss how to partner in the areas of air transport, ICT development, trade exchanges, among other key issues,” Joseph Habineza, Rwandan High Commissioner to Nigeria with jurisdiction over Ivory Coast, said.