RwandAir, the flag carrier of Rwanda, increased its international offering with the addition of daily flights on the 521-kilometre sector from Entebbe(EBB) to Nairobi(NBO) on 29 January, using its 50-seat CRJ 900s. This route is already flown with direct services by Kenya Airways (35 times weekly) and Fly-SAX (11 times weekly). RwandAir is also operating this airport pair six times weekly via its Kigali base. Commenting on the route launch, Gobena Mikael, GM Commercial, RwandAir, said: “The route will be operated by state of the art next generation dual class CRJ 900s, which guarantee safety and great comfort, especially on such short haul routes. Flights are scheduled to depart at 9:00 am from Entebbe and at 9:00 pm from Nairobi, primarily catering for the demands of the business and the short stay traveller.”
Speaking at Entebbe International Airport, on Jan. 29, John Mirenge, the CEO of RwandAir said the new route is an addition to their expansion plan on the more than 16 destinations they are covering within the region and beyond.
For the travellers in the EAC region, Mirenge said the new route is an opportunity to offer choices. Following an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, Uganda’s aviation regulator CAA grounded Air Uganda and other local operators in June last year due to safety standards on the side of the regulator and the operators. The grounding caused a spike in the price of the air ticked on the route to about $582 (Shs 1.7mn), much higher than what most travellers could afford. RwandAir’s launch is a blessing, according to Mirenge.
Fortunately where there is choice there is always better efficiency, and better value,” he said. “Without doubt, connectively leads to economic development.” He added that the new route will improve tourism and other sectors in the two countries. Soon, Mirenge said they will launch Entebbe-Dar es Salaam route, Entebbe Bujumbura, Entebbe Johannesburg among other routes. “The plans are there we just need to concretise the action and move on,” he said. The airline took two days to get approvals from Ugandan authorities and over a month to get same approvals in Kenya. In terms of frequency, Mirenge said they are starting with one daily and will grow this to three flights a day by the end of this year.
The development, however, according to observers, is likely to fuel price wars among players after RwandAir launched with a return ticket at US$ 250, down by almost half the fare charged by other players on the same route. Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Frank Mugambagye and Uganda’s transport minister, Abraham Byandala applauded the airline for the move.
(Additional reporting adopted from the Independent.co.ug)