RwandAir has resumed cargo flights to Guangzhou, China, as the airline embarks on a recovery path following suspension of passenger flights in March to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The airline has been operating cargo flights only to Brussels and London at least once a week using its A330 jets, and had suspended cargo flights to China in February.
“The cargo flights to Guangzhou are not a complete reinstatement, it will operate as an ad-hoc cargo flight that will be coming in on demand. RwandAir is here to support the economy, there many exporters who currently need to export their goods to Europe and China, and this flight comes in to fill the existing demand,” said Jimmy Musoni, the airline’s director of global sales and operations.
The suspension of flights hit the carrier, whose prospects were looking bullish, after it opened new lucrative routes to Guangzhou, Tel Aviv and Kinshasa last year, and was closing in on its direct routes to the US after expanding its fleet, to better serve its growing routes.
RwandAir is one of the public entities that are scheduled to receive a financial relief package from the government, as the country moves to salvage the key sectors of the economy in order to minimise the Covid-19 pandemic shocks to the economy.
It is not yet clear how much will be allocated to RwandAir and which priority areas the airline will inject this money in as the Ministry of Finance is still working on the budget for the entire relief package.
“The financial relief package to RwandAir is still being worked upon by the Ministry of Finance, along relief to other affected sectors of the economy like tourism, it is not yet finalised, the line ministry can give more details,” said the Minister for Infrastructure Claver Gatete.
Despite suspension of passenger flights, the airline has been incurring maintenance costs, passenger compensation and other fixed costs, which have compounded the financial shocks the airline is experiencing.
“The loss is huge, it was a complete halt, we are still quantifying the total loss, but the airline continues to suffer financial shocks especially from the on-going refunds and fixed costs like servicing loan commitments,” said Mr Musoni.
RwandAir has been pivotal in supporting the growth of the tourism, growing passenger numbers every year, most of which have been conference delegates or tourists.