By Prof. Wolfgang H. Thome
Usually well informed sources from Kigali have confirmed that the replacements for the two B737-500 aircraft on lease to RwandAir will start arriving in Rwanda within the space of the next two weeks already.
The two ageing Boeings will be substituted by two relatively new B737-700NG, coming from European airline TUIfly, adding greater reach to the fleet but also more seats.
The two aircraft now leaving the fleet had a twin class configuration capacity of 12 business and 80 economy class seats while the new B737-700NG’s will offer 108 economy class seats and 12 business class seats, adding space for an extra 28 passengers on each of the two aircraft.
The range too will be significantly upped, from the current approximately 4.100 kms for the older aircraft type to well over 6.000 kms for the newer -700NG’s, allowing RwandAir to use this aircraft type to fly without problems nonstop to Dubai or with ease to the new destination Accra / Ghana, to where the inaugural flight will take off in June this year.
RwandAir has not yet formally confirmed that the options for two more Bombardier CRJ900NextGen will be turned into firm orders but it is expected that this will happen in 2014, as the expansion of destinations and the increase in frequencies to key destinations continues.
Only last month has President Paul Kagame, in his monthly meeting with the media, confirmed to this correspondent that RwandAir will continue to enjoy the fullest support of the Rwandan government, and that, when the time is right, a strategic partner will be sought to join hands with the national airline. RwandAir is surely now the pride of Rwanda and the envy of many in the region, who seem to be standing still while RwandAir is flying away from them. Watch this space for breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation scene.