Qatar Airways CEO Sees Huge Potential In RwandAir Partnership

In February last year, Qatar Airways announced intentions to purchase a 49% stake in Rwanda’s national carrier, RwandAir. Speaking with Simple Flying last week, the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, outlined the importance of his partnership with the central African carrier and the proposed takeover.

Qatar Airways, Rwandair, Partnership
Qatar Airways sees vast potential in its RwandAir partnership. Photo: Airbus

Qatar Airways has multiple partnerships with airlines around the world. This means that if the Middle Eastern giant doesn’t serve an area, it likely offers a connection with somebody who does. One area of keen interest to the airline is the continent of Africa, with Al Baker calling it the most unserved continent.

The RwandAir partnership

The prospect of a Qatar Airways RwandAir partnership is nothing new. Simple Flying first revealed that Qatar Airways had an interest in the airline back in February 2020. Since then, a deal on the takeover has been slowly brewing. In late March, ch-aviation.com reported that talks on the exchange had reached the final stages.

Qatar Airways Group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, touched on this recently while speaking exclusively to Simple Flying. Al Baker said,

“Africa is the most unserved continent, and the airlines that are serving them are taking the passengers to the cleaners. My job is to provide them a world-class airport and partner with RwandAir to give them the kind of service we provide in Qatar Airways.”

Qatar Airways, Rwandair, Partnership
Qatar Airways also has interests in Kigali’s new airport. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Airport interest

It’s not just the airline that Qatar Airways is interested in. The Doha giant is actively involved in the construction of the Bugesera Airport around 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

According to previous reporting from ch-aviation.com, Qatar Airways signed a deal with the Rwandan government for 60% of the airport, valued at $780 million at the time. The deal includes three separate agreements concerning,

  • Building the airport
  • Owning the airport
  • Operating the airport

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About RwandAir

According to ch-aviation.com, RwandAir was founded in 2009 following a rebrand from RwandAir Express, which was active from 2002 to 2009. The airline serves 26 destinations spread across 20 countries and 42 routes. One of the airline’s more exciting routes is operating a fifth freedom to Guangzhou via India’s Mumbai. Of course, the route was impacted by the current situation faced by the global aviation industry.

Qatar Airways, Rwandair, Partnership
The Boeing 737 is a crucial part of the RwandAir fleet. Photo: Boeing

Across a fleet of ten active and two inactive aircraft, the airline has a capacity of 1,658 seats. RwandAir owns seven of its 12 jets,

  • 1x Airbus A330-200
  • 1x Airbus A330-300
  • 2x Boeing 737-800
  • 2x CRJ900ER
  • 1x Dash 8 Q400

The remaining five are leased from AerCap (1x 737-700), ALC (2x Boeing 737-800), Dara Aviation (1x Boeing 737-700), and Montrose Global (1x Dash 8 Q400).

The airline did have commitments for two new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft alongside two new A330neo jets. These were due to be delivered from leasing companies. In September, it was revealed that the airline would not be taking these jets, instead looking to lease equivalent jets from its Qatar Airways partnership. Qatar had been using a similar approach with its partner Air Italy before it ceased flights.

What do you expect to see from the Qatar Airways x RwandAir partnership? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

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