RwandAir Reduces Staff Salaries To Avoid Layoffs

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In a statement released Sunday, Rwanda’s flag carrier RwandAir announced it is implementing several cost-reduction measures to protect the company’s future and avoid laying off staff. These include the reduction of employees’ salaries.

rwandair cuts costs due to corona
RwandAir is cutting staff’s salaries to avoid layoffs. Photo: RwandAir

Pay cuts to protect jobs

Like so many companies in aviation these days, Rwandan flag-carrier RwandAir has announced cost-reducing measures to help keep the airline afloat during – and beyond – the corona-crisis. In a press release issued Sunday, the only detail provided was that staff would see their wages cut. This is being done in the name of saving their jobs.

“In order to protect the company’s future well-being and to avoid laying off staff, RwandAir has had to implement several temporary measures to reduce expenditure, including the reduction in employees’ salaries,” the statement read“This difficult decision was made after evaluating the stark options available, in the context of a severely affected aviation sector worldwide.”

RwandAir jet
RwandAir has continued to operate cargo flights. Photo: Getty Images

Fifth freedom cargo and repatriation

RwandAir has suspended all regular commercial flights from the 20th of March until, so far, the 30th of April. But like so many other airlines, it continues to keep some planes in service, operating select flights from its Kigali International Airport hub.

Just last week, the airline resumed its fifth freedom flights to Guangzhou, China, by way of Mumbai. While this route was performing “beyond expectations” after the first four months following its launch in June last year, it is for now solely transporting cargo, and only on-demand.

The carrier has also been performing weekly cargo-runs to Brussels and London. Furthermore, beginning May, RwandAir will also be operating a once-weekly repatriation-focused flight to the Belgian capital, allowing stranded Rwandans to return home.

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Hopefully, RwandAir’s cost-saving measures will be enough. Photo: Rachel Strohm via Flickr.

Rwanda’s swift response

The East African country has so far received praise for its curbing of the spread of COVID-19 domestically. Rwanda has (at the time of writing, and according to Johns Hopkins) recorded only 191 confirmed cases and zero deaths from the virus. Ninety-two have already recovered, and not one of the confirmed cases has required intensive care.

Health experts say that techniques and experience from combating Ebola have been essential in implementing a swift response with clear objectives and purpose. Let’s hope that the response will have been enough and that cases remain mild. The land-locked country only has 50 critical care beds for a population of 12.3 million people.

With any luck, the measures implemented by its national airline will also have been executed in time. The airline provides an income to 500 employees. At this time it is unknown how employees are reacting to the news. But given the overall climate of reduced travel, hopefully they will all understand.

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Have you flown with RwandAir? What was your experience? Do you think it will manage to weather the greatest crisis aviation has ever faced? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section. 

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