TURKISH AIRLINES will next month flag off its maiden flight from Kigali under its subsidiary, Turkish Cargo.
The development comes as relief to exporters in the private sector who have been urging for more cargo carriers, citing scarcity of the service despite the growing exports sector.
The airliner, under Tuskon, a confederation of Turkish businessmen, is looking to strengthen its position on the global scene – and thus has increased cargo fleet and taken on aggressive advertisement policies in order to penetrate untapped markets.
“The feedback we got when we told people that we are starting our cargo service was impressive. There is no scheduled cargo flight from Rwanda yet, but in May we shall start our maiden flight,” said Burcin Isler, Rwanda country manager for Turkish Airlines.
Isler told The New Times that the carrier will acquire two new cargo planes from Boeing, one in May and the other in October this year; they will fly once a week, starting 13 May.
“Business people have been airing out their dissatisfaction- that they are usually limited on cargo weights in various passenger planes. Rwandans need a scheduled aircraft to send and receive cargo- and that is what Turkish Airlines is doing,” he said.
He added that the planes would be very helpful especially to those that transport perishable goods.
Hannington Namara, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), said that the initiative will also foster business relations between Rwandan traders and the Turkish business community.
“The Turks are not here to only make profits but to cement business relations and ensure that they benefit from the opportunity of working with the Rwandan business community,” Namara said.
The four-star Alliance member became the third airline to enter Rwanda’s aviation market in 2012, following South African Airways and Qatar Airways.
These joined Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Air Uganda and Rwanda’s national carrier, Rwandair.
Turkish Airlines operates a modern fleet to key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and America.