The planned entry of South African Airways (SAA) early next year is expected to increase competition within Rwanda’s aviation industry.
South African Airways is expected to commence operations effective January 17, 2012, from Johannesburg to Kigali and onwards to Bujumbura as national carrier, RwandAir says more competition will strengthen the airline business.
“In our business, competition is healthy and we code-shared before they cancelled the route so we welcome the SAA,” RwandAir’s Chief Executive Officer, John Mirenge, said in a phone interview.
Milenge added that with the recently acquired state of the art aircraft, the airline is now ready for competition.
The route between Johannesburg to Kigali and onwards to Bujumbura will be serviced three times a week by SAA’s state-of-the-art Airbus A319 aircraft, which is able to accommodate 120 passengers in a two class (business and economy) configuration.
Flight SA088, is scheduled for Johannesburg - Kigali – Bujumbura on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday departing from Johannesburg at 13h00, and arriving Kigali at 17h00.
According to reports, the flights are available for reservations in the Global Distribution System (GDS’s), through a travel agent, and via the airlines website.
The new Kigali and Bujumbura flights have been conveniently timed to provide global connections via its Johannesburg hub and SAA’s international network, including Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America and Australia.
“The coming of SAA is a sign of competition in the market and growth of the economy,” said Albert Nsegiyumva, the Infrastructure Minister.
Nsengiyumva is optimistic that SAA will boost the economy through revenues and business coming into country.
“Resuming of business by SAA is impressive, maybe before the market wasn’t mature enough and this will boost the economy both directly and indirectly,” he said.
He promised that the government would continue to support the national carrier to remain competitive especially in the marketing strategy.
“The market is open, and there is no need of protecting the state carrier, it’s now equipped to compete unlike before when it was using used and leased airlines,” he said.
Rwanda’s rapidly growing economy and the growing passenger traffic has attracted global players like KLM and Turkish Airlines.