July 20, 2024

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Africa: Qatar Steps Up Aviation Rivalry in Africa With Billion-Dollar RwandAir Stake

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Qatar Airways is set to acquire a 49 percent stake in RwandAir next month, concluding nearly five years of negotiations with the East African-based carrier.

RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo confirmed to the Financial Times that the deal is likely to be finalised in July, marking a significant shift in East Africa’s aviation sector.

Qatar’s increasing involvement in Africa’s aviation market is expected to challenge established carriers such as Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.

Middle Eastern airlines have often been criticised for leveraging extensive government subsidies to offer low fares, gaining a competitive edge over other market players.

The investment will provide the Kigali-based airline with crucial capital to expand its fleet and routes globally. “Now, we’re really at the tail-end of it,” Ms Makolo said.

The carrier’s fleet comprises four Boeing 737-800NG, two Boeing 737-700NG, two CRJ900NG, two Bombardier Q-400NG all in dual-class configuration and two new triple-class Airbus A330, flying to 22 destinations in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Qatar Airways plans to make Kigali its African hub, enabling operations under fifth freedom rights to various destinations without needing to return to Doha.

The Gulf carrier has also invested substantially in Rwanda’s Bugesera Airport, holding a 60 percent stake. The airport, set to open in 2027, will have an initial capacity of 8 million passengers.

This development coincides with Qatar Airways nearing the acquisition of a major airline in Southern Africa, a move anticipated to significantly impact the region’s aviation landscape. The carrier has stated it is in the final stages of securing a stake in an undisclosed airline.

BY  Business Day Africa.

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