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Rwanda Cancels Plan to Increase RwandAir Fleet

The government says expansion of the airline’s fleet will wait until business goes back to normal.

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Rwanda has announced that it is putting on hold the acquisition of new airplanes for its national carrier RwandAir, mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.


The additional planes were to enable RwandAir serve the increasingly opened skies through the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).


Due to the global pandemic, RwandAir was forced to suspend operations following the lockdown in March, and only resumed operations in August when the country started a gradual re-opening of the economy.


The airline has gradually re-opened routes, though passenger occupancy remains low as some parts of the world remain in a lockdown while in other countries, travel remain restricted.


The government says expansion of the airline’s fleet will wait until business goes back to normal.


RwandAir currently has 12 airplanes including two Boeing 737-700NG, two Bombardier CRJ-900 NextGen, four Boeing 737-800NG, two Bombardier Q-400 NextGen, one Airbus A330 – 300, and one Airbus A330 – 200.


Before the pandemic hit, the airline had planned to lease two Airbus A330neo and two Boeing 737 Max 8.

Read also: Rwanda, Qatar sign aviation pact


Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete says “Even the planes we have are not being used to the maximum due to the Covid-19. We have to wait until the passengers are free to keep travelling in a safer environment, so that we can now expand as we cannot expand in this environment.”


He spoke during a press briefing on Friday after signing a bilateral air services agreement (BASA) with the Republic of Korea, bringing the total to 101 BASAs within and outside Africa. Out of these, 52 have been ratified, 17 signed, and 32 initiated.


According to the airline’s earlier plans, the A330neos were to be deployed on long-haul routes to Guangzhou, China, and New York, as well as boost capacity to Dubai, Lagos, and Johannesburg.


RwandAir recently secured clearance to serve New York on code-share and wet-lease basis; an arrangement where one airline provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance to another airline or other type of business acting as a broker of air travel (the lessee), which pays by hours operated.


The 737 Max 8s were scheduled to serve Tel Aviv in Israel, and other regional flights such as Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.


Despite the halting of airplane acquisitions, the government says infrastructure investment to support the aviation sector will continue.
Qatar is set to acquire 60 per cent stake in RwandAir and is expected to complete construction of Bugesera Airport.


According to Gatete, negotiations with Qatar have advanced, and inking the deal between the two parties should take place anytime soon, under which the construction work should take off.

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Somalia Lifts Ban on Importation of Miraa from Kenya

Somalia had stopped the importation of miraa last year when international flights were suspended due to fear of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, but when international air travels resumed, miraa importation from Kenya was still restricted while a different variety from Ethiopia was allowed into the country.

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The Federal Government of Somalia has lifted the one-year-long ban on miraa imports from Kenya.

Somalia had stopped the importation of miraa last year when international flights were suspended due to fear of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, but when international air travels resumed, miraa importation from Kenya was still restricted while a different variety from Ethiopia was allowed into the country.

However, Somalia has imposed certain conditions for the commodity to be admitted in the country which includes traders obtaining import licenses from the government as well as paying the appropriate duties.

Keep Reading:

Somalia Threatens to Exit Regional Bloc Following Verdict on Dispute with Kenya

AU Calls for Dialogue Over Kenya-Somalia Border Tension

Somalia Severs Diplomatic Ties with Kenya

Somalia Suspends Visa-on-Arrival for Kenyans from 13th Dec

Other demands Somalia gave Kenya ahead of lifting the blockade of miraa import includes:

*Kenya treating them as an equal

*Kenya desisting from interfering with their internal affairs

*Kenya to apologize for airspace violation

*Kenya to allow in goods including fish, rice, sugar, honey, meat and milk.

*Kenya must stop forcing flights from Somalia to make a detour to Wajir for inspection.

However, Kenya’s efforts to look for an alternative market in Djibouti are yet to bear fruits.

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IFC Lends KSh1.1 Billion to East Africa’s Largest Glass-Bottle Manufacturer

The company which mainly supplies glass bottles to beverages companies has been adversely affected by the closure of bars and restaurants in some East African countries as well as the restrictions on public gatherings.

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The private investment arm of the world bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has loaned a KSh1.1 billion to Kioo Limited to help the company mitigate the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kioo limited is based in Tanzania and is the largest producer of glass bottles in East Africa. The company which mainly supplies glass bottles to beverages companies has been adversely affected by the closure of bars and restaurants in some East African countries as well as the restrictions on public gatherings.

The IFC loan will provide the company with much-needed capital to continue operating even in a challenging environment.

Read Also: KCB Lending Capacity Receives $150 Million Boost For SMEs, Climate Finance

Kioo limited will use the funds to pay employees and invest in energy-efficient machinery to reduce its carbon emissions.

Kioo limited supplies glass bottles to more than 12 African countries including some island nations in the Indian Ocean. The company is also keen to protect the environment and aims to install energy-efficient machinery in its Dar es Salaam factory in order to cut down on carbon emissions.

IFC has been supporting Small and Medium Enterprises in East African through loans and equity investments.

In addition, the financial organization has over $5 billion invested in African businesses and financial institutions.

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MTN Donates $25M to the African Union

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Telecommunication giant, MTN, has announced a donation of $25million to support the African Union COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Ralph Mupita, President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group, on Wednesday in Johannesburg, said that the donation will help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent.

This he said will contribute to the vaccination initiative of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“The devastating impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and profound, therefore, Public and private partnerships are needed if we are to succeed in the fight against the pandemic.

“The sole objective is to restore social and economic norms for our continent and our communities and most importantly the determination to bring lasting solutions to the disease,

“On Jan. 14, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union, announced that the African Union had secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses on behalf of its Member States.

“Through advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers by the African Export-Import Bank.

“This was an important milestone in efforts to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine for Africa’s people,’’ Mupita said.

He added that with a population of about 1.3 billion, Africa requires many more doses to achieve at least 60 per cent herd immunity.

Contributions by private organisations, like MTN, are therefore essential to help the continent reach its target.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, MTN has made significant contributions to help limit the spread of the disease and save lives and livelihoods within its African market.

This donation is another example of MTN’s efforts to help find lasting solutions to solve the challenges facing the continent and to guarantee a healthy Africa, for all Africans.

“We believe ongoing collaborations with key stakeholders across sectors are essential as vaccines are deployed in all our markets, with communication tools, technology and digital services being vital support infrastructure.

“Therefore, for a successful mass vaccination programme. in the coming months, MTN Group will look at similar support commitments for the markets in which we operate in the Middle East.”Mupita said.

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