Qatar Airlines is seeking to provide extra cargo capacity for local traders thereby boosting government’s efforts to boost the services and make Kigali a regional hub as well as cut down on transport costs.
Ben Mutia, Qatar Airlines Commercial Manager-Rwanda, says the airline is giving extra cargo capacity for Rwandan traders mainly from Quanzhou, China and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to help them cut costs and increase trade volumes.
“Our role in all this is to promote the Rwandan economy, we have been importing sizable cargo to Rwanda and we hope it will increase,” he told Business Times in an exclusive interview on Friday
The airline’s move is likely to help the country improve on its services sector and cut down on transport costs that cause import receipts to increase.
Transport cost for Rwanda’s exports and imports from Kigali to Mombasa destined for international market account for over 40 percent of total costs.
This has prompted the government to consider air transport by developing the services sector to bring down the costs and this has attracted more airlines to open operations in Rwanda.
“Our aircrafts are big enough to carry cargo and we are hoping in the near future to make our cargo prices more competitive,” he said
Qatar that won the Skytrax prestigious Airline of the Year 2011 and 2012 opened its operations in Kigali early this year and currently flies a modern fleet of 111 aircraft to 120 key business and leisure destinations.
Gaparo Muyobotse, a Rwandan businessman, says that Qatar Airline’s move has helped traders to increase on their import volumes which led to increased profits and a reduction in transport costs.
“We have been getting problems with airlines limiting us on the amount of volumes because they cannot manage to carry our cargo together with passengers,” he says.
Muyobotse adds that if all other airlines adopt such as a move, it will be helpful to traders which will also push them to reduce commodity prices.
“When we don’t spend much in transport it is obvious that out consumer prices will go down.”
Indeed, most traders are opting for air transport which is making it easier and quicker to import goods into the country.
However, experts say that with the low volumes Rwanda has, it is tricky for airlines to provide cargo aircraft, something that will still make importation costs higher considering escalating jet fuel prices.