By Julius Bizimungu
The national carrier, RwandAir on Wednesday officially launched its second destination in South Africa.
On Wednesday morning, the airline dispatched its Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen to Cape Town International Airport, making its maiden flight to South Africa’s coastal city.
This means the airline now serves two of South Africa’s most vibrant and biggest cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
This new route follows the already existing Kigali-Johannesburg that the airline has been operating since 2004.
According to RwandAir officials, the decision to launch another route in the same country was based on the potential that the airline had seen in the country after carrying out several market analyses.
“RwandAir studies the market to see where we can spread our wings, and we found a lot of potential in the Cape Town route. This is why we decided to go to this city as an additional destination in South Africa,” Ginette Kadigiri, the airline’s Customer Loyalty Manager told the media at the Kigali International Airport.
Given that Cape Town is a touristic city, she also mentioned that RwandAir wants to leverage its Europe routes to ferry tourists who regularly fly to the South African city.
Catya Alldis is one of such passengers.
She is a tourist who came from London, but going to Cape Town.
“I came to visit friends here in Kigali and in Cape Town but also make some tour. I chose RwandAir because it is convenient, and connecting to another route was easier for me,” she said.
The new flights to Cape Town via Harare will be four times a week, they said.
On whether issues of visa restrictions for Rwandans going to South Africa would affect the airline’s operations, the officials said that the airline targets connecting all Africans.
“So far, we have not had any negative results because generally, we target transporting all African people. After all, only a few Rwandans travel,” Kadigiri said.
RwandAir flies to Johannesburg weekly, with two flights a day, one of which is operated via Lusaka in Zambia. Kadigiri noted that Kigali to Johannesburg is one of the airline’s busiest route in Africa.
Last month, RwandAir launched its flights to Abuja, making it the second destination in Nigeria, after Lagos.
The Kigali-Cape Town route brings the airline’s total destinations to 26.
“It is exciting flying with the country’s carrier, and we the citizens are proud of seeing RwandAir expanding its operations to Africa. It makes it easier to travel within the continent,” Epiphanie Murebwayire, another passenger told The New Times.
In the coming months, officials expect to inaugurate other African routes like Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, which will be followed by new long-haul routes like Guangzhou, China before the end of this year.
Airline officials had earlier highlighted that they were optimistic that the new routes they are opening would help raise the airline’s revenue.
Last year, the airline grew by 20 to 25 per cent in terms of revenue. During the year, the airline carried close to 900,000 passengers.
This year, they expect to transport nearly 1.2 million people.