Competition hots up as Qatar Airways gains CAA nod to start daily flights to Kigali

The expected rise in annual passenger numbers  flying in and out of Kigali International Airport by more than 100,000, this year, has attracted new entrants.
Kigali International Airport that is undergoing expansion and refurbishment is expected to handle an additional 100,000 new passengers this year. The New Times / T. Kiambira
Kigali International Airport that is undergoing expansion and refurbishment is expected to handle an additional 100,000 new passengers this year. The New Times / T. Kiambira

The expected rise in annual passenger numbers  flying in and out of Kigali International Airport by more than 100,000, this year, has attracted new entrants. The latest being Qatar Airways which has received a nod from Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to start direct flights to Kigali in the first quarter of this year, CAA said.

CAA officials say that Kigali International Airport is expected to handle an additional 100,000 passengers, this year, from 350,000 it handled last year. CAA officials, while talking to Business Times, added that the rise in passengers flying in and out of Kigali International Airport, has  partly led to the authority allowing Qatar Airways to start operating along the route.

The entry of Qatar Airways signals the onset of a new round of competition that brings to seven  the number of airlines operating from Kigali. Two more airlines  South African Airways and Turkish Airlines  also are expected to start operating soon.

The Public Relations Officer of  CAA, Tony Barigye, told Business Times, in a phone interview that Qatar Airlines  is starting direct flights on 31st March, this year.

“The airline’s delegation wanted to inspect whether rental space was available, whether the security system was ample, including parking space and related facilities, such as ground handling capacity, and they were satisfied with what they saw,” Barigye said. During the inspection and visiting tour by Qatar’s Manager of Operations, John Itz the airline is said to have appreciated the ground handling capacity at Kigali International Airport.  

Qatar Airways officials earlier told Business Times that the  airline is joining Rwandan market due to the rising passenger numbers that are also attributed to the route gaining prominence as a future business hub. The airline will be conducting daily flights from Doha to Kigali via Entebbe.

Turkish Airline  is also planning to add Kigali to its African destinations this year.

This was disclosed by Turkish Airlines’ Chief Executive, Temel Kotil, during a visit late last year. 

saul.butera@newtimes.co.rw

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