RwandAir resumes flights to Africa routes, more to follow

Thursday August 20 2020

ndege

The national carrier is expected to fly to other international destinations in the wake of coronavirus. PHOTO | FILE 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
More by this Author

RwandAir will on August 21 resume four weekly flights to Kinshasa as the airline gradually picks pace to shake off the challenges endured during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other resumed destinations are on the African continent, including flights to Cotonou, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Lusaka, Libreville and Kilimanjaro.

Dubai is RwandAir’s only destination outside Africa at the moment, but the airline plans to resume flights to London, Tel Aviv and Guangzhou.

Kigali International Airport also receives flights departing for Brussels, Johannesburg, Dakar and to Addis Ababa, with connections to the United States via Ethiopian Airlines.

Those travelling to Rwanda must be tested again upon arrival and be quarantined within hotels, at their own cost, until their test results are delivered.

Passengers will be greeted with new features that are enforced both at Kigali International Airport and on flights to minimize the risk of Covid-19 infection.

Advertisement

Every passenger and staff must have a negative Covid-19 test, while all customer handling desks are fitted with glass screens and hand sanitisers.

The airline has also recommended online check-in to avoid queues at the airport, while check-in kiosks are now fitted at the airport to reduce human contact.

Before and after each commercial flight, the airport terminal, rails and handles, check-in desks and kiosks are disinfected. All staff are covered in face masks, while thermo cameras are fixed at the terminal building to automatically check temperatures of every passenger.

Social distancing signs are marked on the terminal path to help passengers maintain social distancing.

Wheeled robots at the airport remind passengers of social distancing, mask-wearing and other measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

The aircraft are also deep-cleaned before the passengers are allowed to board, while the crew members don personal protective equipment. With resumption of flights, RwandAir now hopes to make for lost ground after suffering financially when all flights were suspended since mid-March to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The airline has not turned profitable since its rebranding in 2009, although it has consumed over $2 billion in public funds and loans.

Rwanda has expressed confidence that increased economic activity and tourism will spur it to profitability.

However, RwandAir will brace for tight competition as all regional airlines resume operations, many on the same routes.

Experts warn that airlines in the region will have to cooperate more and engage in less competition if they are to survive financially.

Kenya Airways (KQ) resumed domestic and international flights in July. South Sudan was the first country in the region to reopen its airports in May, after the country eased coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

In Tanzania, commercial airlines resumed flights to and From Dar es Salaam in June.

According to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), airlines in the East African Community risk insolvency and bankruptcy due to prolonged lack of business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Advertisement