Africa We Want


The acquisition of 49% of RwandAir by Qatar Airways is set to be finalized by the end of the first semester. This was implied by CEO Yvonne Makolo in an interview with NewsAero on Monday, June 3, on the sidelines of the IATA General Assembly in Dubai. By News aero

“This time for real we are just about to finalize and we should in the coming few weeks or month. Before the end of the first semester?

I hope so. We are working towards it “ she stated. It was in February 2020 that Qatar Airways revealed it had begun negotiations with the Rwandan government - the main shareholder - to acquire shares in the national carrier.

According to Makolo, the equity stake acquisition is a rather complex operational process.

Despite encountering several obstacles along the way, she assures that they are not political obstacles. The delays so far have been due to other factors. “They have also faced many changes on their end. The COVID-19 pandemic happened and disrupted many aspects. They focused on the World Cup for a while. Nevertheless, we have continued to discuss, to cooperate.”

Qatar Airways’ arrival expected to accelerate fleet expansion

To date, Makolo acknowledges that RwandAir has a significant need for expanding its fleet.

“In terms of operations, currently yes, but we are very limited in terms of expansion. We are still looking, we continue to search for additional aircraft.” The airline currently operates a fleet of 14 aircraft, including two A330-200s, one A330-300, one 737-700, six 737-800s, one 737-800 cargo, two CRJ900s, and two Dash8-Q400s.

Their strategy is to move towards a standardized fleet. “We need fewer types of aircraft.”

While she acknowledges that the CRJ900s will be the first to be phased out of perations, she remains discreet about the composition of the future fleet, which will be defined in close collaboration with the new shareholder. “I cannot go into details at the moment, as the finalization of the agreement is ongoing. This is part of our investment plan and our existing business plan.”

The African market, our priority

In its new configuration, RwandAir does not lose sight of its objectives and vision for the African market. “Rwanda’s goal is to connect African countries, to link Rwanda to the rest of Africa, and even beyond. Our goal is still to expand our footprint in African countries.

The idea is to create a hub in Kigali, to bring together all passengers from different African countries to this hub, and then take them to the rest of the world, to our long-haul destinations, whether Dubai, Doha, London, Brussels, and Paris.”

Regarding the service to the French capital, “ this route is doing exceptionally well, better than we even expected, “ Makolo does acknowledge that operations on certain African routes remain quite challenging, especially due to the blocking of revenue from ticket sales.

Although the situation in Nigeria has significantly improved, destinations like Burundi remain relatively challenging.

What about expansion towards the North of the continent?

At the moment, “there is not much commercial exchange and travel between

North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa that would justify direct flights.” However, Makolo hopes that in the future, with increased exchanges, especially thanks to the African Continental Free Trade Area, traffic will increase and make this region also attractive for air connections.Profitability, a little more patience RwandAir is on a positive growth trajectory but does not expect to achieve profitability in the short term.

This is due to the aftermath of the health crisis, but also to the colossal investments required for the acquisition and development of production tools. “We are just approaching preCOVID-19 figures in terms of revenue and traffic.

We are eager to see further growth and achieve profitability. However, significant investments are also planned. To continue to grow, we must also invest,” she explains.

In 2019, the pre-COVID reference year, RwandAir transported around 1.2 million passengers.

“We should end this fiscal year, which ends in June, with nearly 1.1 million passengers, we are getting closer to 2019.”

She is also pleased to note that revenue is now 20% higher than the results of 2019.

Author: MANZI


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