The governments of Benin and Rwanda on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint airline based in Cotonou, where RwandAir, the national carrier, officially launched its new hub. By APA-Kigali



This was after Rwanda was granted seventh freedom rights by the government of Benin which allows RwandAir to operate an international air service from the West African nation to a third country.
Seventh freedom is the right to carry passengers or cargo between two foreign countries without any continuing service to one’s own country.
The joint airline will ply Abidjan, Brazzaville, Douala, Libreville, Bamako, Dakar and Conakry routes, according to Yvonne Manzi Makolo, the RwandAir deputy CEO for corporate affairs.
RwandAir will deploy two Boeing 737 aircraft in Cotonou and begin operations at its new hub in the near future, she added.
“The launch of this hub will improve air transport on the continent as RwandAir will be able to enter new markets in West and Central Africa with better connections and frequencies,” said Makolo during the signing event at Cotonou’s Cardinal Bernadin Gantin International Airport.
The Foreign Affairs minister of Rwanda Louise Mushikiwabo said the signing was planned to coincide with Benin’s 57th independence anniversary.
“We are here because, a year ago, our two heads of state urged us to do more in strengthening our cooperation for the better of our people… We are led by men of action who are eager to see a developed Africa by working together,” she said.
The said Benin has 51 percent shareholding in the joint airline venture, while Rwanda has 49 percent.
“We have been seeking our own home in West Africa for a while and we opted for Benin,” she added.
Benin’s Foreign Minister Aurelien Agbenonci commended the cooperation between the two countries, describing RwandAir as Africa’s pride.
“The airline will be operated by Benin and Rwandans staff...We are looking to upgraded facilities at the airport to ensure the hub is competitive. This will also allow the carrier to grow in this part of Africa” he said.
RwandAir will continue to operate between Kigali and Cotonou route, while providing the joint airline access to its services throughout the Eastern and Southern Africa, the Middle East and Asia, officials said.
The Rwandan national carrier plies 23 routes presently across Africa, Asia and Europe.