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Qatar and Rwanda to open airport in ‘heart of Africa’ by 2028

RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo said in Doha: 'Addis is already a huge hub but Kigali will be an alternative regional hub, especially given the geographical position of Rwanda' Reuters/Dilara Senkaya
RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo said in Doha: 'Addis is already a huge hub but Kigali will be an alternative regional hub, especially given the geographical position of Rwanda'
  • Construction underway in Kigali
  • Project valued at $1.3bn in 2019
  • Aims to rival Addis Ababa airport

Qatar Airways and RwandAir will open a major international airport in Rwanda’s capital Kigali by 2028, the airlines said this week.

The Qatari flag carrier has also announced plans to take a stake in a southern African airline to cement its expansion plans on the continent. 

RwandAir and Qatar Airways, which have a code-sharing agreement, are hoping Kigali will rival Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia as the leading transit hub in Africa. 

“Construction is already in progress. We’re about to finalise the horizontal works and move to the vertical. We’re looking at 2027 and 2028 in terms of the airport being operational,” RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo told a forum in Doha on Wednesday. 

“Addis is already a huge hub but Kigali will be an alternative regional hub, especially given the geographical position of Rwanda right in the heart of Africa, which gives us access to all the points,” she said. 

Qatar Airways has a 60 percent stake in the Kigali project, which was valued at $1.3 billion when the agreement with Rwanda was signed in 2019.

The contract for the main works will be awarded within two months, said Qatar Airways CEO Badr Mohammed Al Meer. 

Al Meer also told the forum that the Qatar-owned carrier would announce another African partnership within weeks.

“The last piece of the equation is southern Africa,” he said. “We are at the final stage of an equity investment in an airline in the southern part of Africa. This airline will help us complement the operation of Kigali as a hub.” 

Al Meer, who took over as CEO last November, said his company’s recent tender to Boeing and Airbus for new wide-bodied jets was aimed at reducing the number of aircraft types in its fleet, but delivery delays were causing disruption throughout the aviation industry.

“Having seven different types of aircraft is putting pressure on us,” he told the forum. The tender would offer “more consistency in what we are giving our passengers” and “have “better streamlining in our operation.” 

Al Meer said: “Demand in the industry has picked up – it’s very high. We can’t meet [passenger] demand because of the shortage of aircraft in the market.” 

Qatar Airways' passenger numbers rose by 30 percent in 2023, he added, and are already up 27 percent since January. 

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