The South African Airways (SAA) has added Rwanda to its 500 destinations across the world by reentering the Kigali – Johannesburg route.

An Airbus A319 aircraft with a capacity of carrying 120 passengers; 25 in business class and 95 in economy class will operate three days a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays from Johannesburg to Kigali, before departing for Bujumbura.

The return flights will operate from Bujumbura to Kigali and onwards to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

“Who knows home than we do, we are very confident to operate in this market, even if there are other companies operating on the same route,” said Aaron Munetsi, SAA’s regional general manager for Africa and Middle East.

According to Munetsi, SAA sees great potential in the Rwandan Market as a fast growing economy to realise their business goals.

“Air traffic is growing and the African continent is resilient to different circles of global meltdown,” Munetsi noted.

Viresh Vallabhbhai, acting charge d’affaires at the South African High Commission noted that SAA’s operations will also strengthen bilateral ties and increase investments.

“This is the beginning of investments from South Africa, we are expecting more businesses, either by South Africans or other investors outside South Africa,” says Vallabhbhai.

“It’s a win-win situation. The role we are playing is not only the opening up the airline but connecting Rwanda to the great trade boom in all 500 connections.”

The airline is represented mainly in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America and Australia.

Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the Minister of State in charge of Transport, welcomed the development, saying that SAA’s knows the market and their resumption of flights to Rwanda is a clear indication that they have confidence in the local aviation market.

Last year, Rwanda’s aviation industry attracted interest from international players, including Turkish Airways and Emirates Airlines while the national carrier stepped up efforts to increase its foothold in Africa.  It is expected that Rwanda’s air traffic will rise to 300 flights per week from 200 last year.

By Gertrude Majyambere, The New Times

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