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RwandAir and Qatar Airways have signed a comprehensive codeshare agreement that will offer travelers more choice, service, and greater connectivity. The agreement was signed today in Boston on the sidelines of the IATA Annual General Meeting. The codeshare is a next step towards formalizing the ties between the two carriers, which includes Qatar taking a 49 percent share. RwandAir and Qatar strengthen bond with codeshare.

Operating from Kigali, RwandAir is one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines. It operates twelve aircraft with an average age of just under six years, including two Airbus A330s, six Boeing 737NGs, two Bombardier CRJ 900s, and two De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400s. The airline currently offers services to 25 destinations across 21 countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. It has a reputation for delivering a premium service.

As part of the deal, the Rwandan flag carrier will launch new non-stop flights between its Kigali hub and Qatar’s base at Hamad International Airport in Doha in December. From there, customers will have access to Qatar’s vast network that includes popular destinations in the US, Europe, and Asia.

The codeshare will give Qatar Airways access to 65 destinations across Africa such as Bujumbura, Kinshasa, and Lubumbashi. Customers can buy connecting flights on both airlines using one reservation, with seamless ticketing, check-in, boarding, and baggage check experience that encompasses the entire journey.

Milestone for RwandAir

RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo said: “This is a major milestone for RwandAir and marks the beginning of an exciting new journey with Qatar Airways. We are also immensely proud to welcome Doha to our route network, connecting customers with Qatar’s hub and further expanding their flight map. This codeshare agreement will give our customers significantly more choice and flexibility, allowing RwandAir to strengthen its global presence and build on its strong and loyal African customer base.”

“As we continue to grow out of the pandemic, this partnership represents yet another extremely important step on our recovery runway, and we hope to deliver more commitments like this to our customers in the very near future.”

RwandAir continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 25 destinations. The partnership will give RwandAir, which has reported close to $50 million in losses each year since its creation, a solid technical and financial partner able to support its development and hub strategy.

Qatar extends foothold in Africa

Qatar Airways has had a keen interest in RwandAir for more than a year. In February 2020, Group CEO Akbar Al Baker announced his airline would take a 49 percent share. This still has to be finalized. On the codeshare agreement, Al Baker said: “We share a very close and collaborative bond with Rwanda and welcome RwandAir’s new non-stop service between Kigali and our home in Doha. With this comprehensive codeshare agreement, we are committed to deliver greater choice and connectivity to our customers in Africa and around the world. The new partnership will help position Qatar Airways in the region and complement our African expansion strategy.”

Both airlines recently announced a loyalty partnership, giving RwandAir Dream Miles and Qatar Airways Privilege Club loyalty members access to each other’s destinations. This gives customers the opportunity to accrue and redeem miles across their reciprocal route networks and access the airlines’ airport lounges at both airlines’ hub homes in Doha and Kigali.

In February 2020, Qatar also took a 60 percent stake in the new Bugesera airport East of Kigali. It is a project worth nearly $1.3 billion and initially scheduled for completion in 2020. In December, Al Baker confirmed that Qatar would acquire another stake. - Wole Shadare, AirInsight Group 

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