RwandAir and Qatar Airways sign interline agreement

RWANDAQatar Airways has signed a new partnership with Rwanda’s flag carrier, RwandAir via their hubs at Doha and Kigali.

As a part of the strategic partnership, the extensive interline agreement will give customers access to the networks of both airlines.

Akbar Al-Baker, Qatar Airways Group chief executive, said, “Africa is a hugely important market for us and this latest partnership will help support the recovery of international air travel and offer unrivaled connectivity to and from a number of new African destinations.”

On the other side, Yvonne Makolo, RwandAir CEO, said, “We’re really excited to be opening up more of the world to our customers through the new interline agreement with Qatar Airways. Delivering excellent customer experience is key for us and we know that any travelers flying with Qatar Airways or RwandAir, as part of the agreement, will continue to receive the same unrivaled level of service they’re used to from both airlines.”

RwandAir operates services throughout Africa and to long-haul destinations including London Heathrow, from its Kigali-based hub.

Qatar Airways serves Kigali from Doha five times per week via Entebbe, utilizing its sustainable and fuel-efficient Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft.

The airline’s customers can transit via Kigali to a diverse range of African destinations including Bujumbura, Brazzaville and Libreville.

Since February this year, the Rwandan government was in negotiation with Qatar Airways over the sale of a 49 percent stake in RwandAir.

The new airport is being redesigned to accommodate 7 million passengers per year, which is located about 25 kilometers southeast of Kigali. Phase II expected to accommodate 14 million passengers a year, will commence operation by 2032.

The partnership between Qatar Airways and RwandAir is set to reshape the regional airspace with carriers such as Ethiopian and Kenya Airways staring at a possible loss of transiting passengers.

The new partnership, which comes at a time when Rwanda and Qatar are at an advanced stage to have the latter take a majority stake at the East African carrier as well as its new airport, will see passengers traveling in either of the carriers connect flights from their hubs in Kigali of Doha.

“In 2019, Qatar Airways agreed to take a 60 percent stake in a new $1.3 billion Bugesera International Airport in Rwanda

The move implies that passengers from Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda who would travel to Nairobi or Addis for trans-Atlantic flights, will opt to use RwandAir or Qatar to travel to countries like the US.

The interline agreement will give customers access to the networks of both airlines, providing a seamless travel experience and enhanced customer service.

Customers can pick and choose from over 160 destinations in the combined networks of both airlines, which are perfectly connected via their home main hubs.

The airline’s customers will be able to connect through Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha to access Qatar Airways’ destinations on every continent, from Paris to Washington, Delhi to Hong Kong and many more.

Qatar will make Rwanda its African operation center where passengers from other African countries can connect flights to Europe or even the US using either Qatar Airways or RwandAir without necessarily having to connect from their headquarters in Doha.

Qatar Airways is investing US$1.2 billion at the new Rwandan Airport making it one of the largest ports in East Africa as it positions itself to become a regional hub, a status currently held by JKIA.

The move follows a deal between Kigali and Doha, which will see the Qatari government own a stake of 60 percent at the new facility.

The partnership will involve building, owning, and operating of the new Bugesera International Airport as it seeks to expand its capacity to seven million passengers a year.

The deal was delayed by the emergence of Covid-19 last year but both airlines have given an undertaking of completing the deal soon.

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