Rwanda will resume scheduled commercial flights on August 1. The aviation industry of the country will be back on track after a gap of almost four months. Since March 20, no commercial international or domestic aircraft has landed in the East African country. However, in June, authorities opened the borders for chartered international flights. Until yesterday, the country had recorded 1500 coronavirus cases.
The health authorities of Rwanda are currently taking no chances to allow a further spread of coronavirus. The airport operations will adhere to the guidelines issued by the health ministry and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization to ensure the safety and health of passengers.
All passengers, including those in transit, will be required to show proof of the negative result from a COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours before arrival, from a certified laboratory. International passengers entering Rwanda will have to receive a second test and stay in designated hotels at their own cost before the result is delivered. As of now, the country’s borders are open only to goods/cargo delivery and returning Rwandan citizens.
Which flights will resume?
The Rwandan aviation authorities have completely opened their airspace, starting from the beginning of next month. This means that there is no restriction on a specific airline or destination. Africa’s largest carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, is expected to resume daily flights to and from Kigali, the capital, on August 1.
Moreover, Brussels Airlines had already shown an intent to start direct flights from Brussels to Kigali. Flights will start from August 2, initially operating twice a week. Also, Qatar Airways had announced that it would resume daily flights from Doha to Kigali onboard B787-8 aircraft. However, due to low demand, the service will instead operate thrice-weekly starting on August 3.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is expected to resume flight operations on Amsterdam – Kigali route on August 6. The airline had halted intercontinental operations due to the pandemic and is one of the worst-hit airlines in Europe.
The national carrier of Rwanda will resume flights to select destinations. Initially, the airline will start with the African routes that are already open. Before pandemic, the airline operated most of its destinations in Africa, flying to about 24 cities across the region. For the long-haul routes, RwandAir will start with Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – one of the most lucrative business routes for the airline.
Fighting to survive
RwandAir, just like may other airlines, has suffered a massive setback because of coronavirus. The Government of Rwanda has already announced that it will increase funding to the national carrier to Rwf 145.1 billion ($ 152 million) in the 2020-21 fiscal year. One of the biggest obstacles in the recovery stage is passenger confidence.
According to a survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in June, 58 % of people avoided air travel due to COVID-19. This number might gradually fall soon as safer measures are initiated.
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