RwandAir Eyes New York Flights – What We Know

RwandAir has filed an application with the Department of Transportation (DoT) to begin flights between Kigali and New York. The airline hopes to gain from the growing traffic between the US and Rwanda by offering the fastest service. Let’s find out more about this possible new route.

RwandAir A330
RwandAir is hoping to break into the US market. Photo: RwandAir

Request made

The first step to starting any new international route is receiving the requisite approvals from the two governments. To this end, RwandAir has filed a request with the DoT and giving us an insight into the carrier’s upcoming plans in the US.

RwandAir plans to introduce a route from Kigali, Rwanda, to New York JFK with a stop in Accra, Ghana. The route will tentatively begin operating in December 2021, assuming travel restrictions open up by then.

Kigali New York man
RwandAir will fly to JFK with a stop in Accra. Photo: GCMapper

Currently, RwandAir operates flights to Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Adding the US to its route map would a huge boost to the growing airline. However, with only two widebody aircraft, flying to the US will mean downgrading other routes to narrowbodies.

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A330 making the hop

RwandAir has said it will fly the route using an Airbus A330, however, it did not clarify if it would be the -200 or -300 variant. The former offers more range and allows the aircraft to fly nonstop between Kigali and JFK (7,039 miles) if needed.

While the A330-300 can also fly nonstop, it would be close to the plane’s maximum range and may lead to payload restrictions. Moreover, the -300 offers far more seating capacity and therefore higher revenues for the airline. 

RwandAir A33-300
RwandAir has not specified which variant of the A330 it will choose, but the A330-300 does make sense on the route. Photo: RwandAir

The distance from Kigali to Accra is 2,157 miles, while Accra to JFK is just 5,111 miles, allowing both aircraft to make the journey. By breaking the journey into two legs, RwandAir can attract passengers from two markets, ensuring high load factors, and easily make the journey with the A330-300 with no restrictions.

Time to go

Before RwandAir can formally announce the route, it will require clearance from the US and achieve FAA Category 1 rating. This is not a done deal by any means, but the carrier has been working on its international safety ratings in recent years. Coming out from a difficult year due to the pandemic, a new route to the US could boost the airline’s recovery.

RwandAir A330
RwandAir will need to achieve FAA Category 1 rating before entering US skies. Photo: RwandAir

A new route to the US will also benefit the airline’s new partnership with Qatar Airways, which owns 49% of the carrier. As traffic in Africa continues growing, many have highlighted the huge growth potential in the region. This new route to the US is just the first of many likely to come up in the next few years.

What do you think about RwandAir’s new route to the US? Let us know in the comments!