RwandAir eyes Zim routes

HARARE - RwandAir says it will launch its inaugural flights to Zimbabwe in April as the airline continues with its regional expansion.

This comes as Rwanda’s national airline last week announced Harare was going to be among its new regional and international destinations such as Mumbai, London, Bamako, Conakry, New York and Lilongwe.

On Thursday, the Rwandese flag carrier confirmed it was set to begin flights to Zimbabwe during the second quarter of this year, bringing closure to route negotiations which commenced in 2013.

On its official account on micro-blogging site, Twitter, RwandAir told followers that flights were to commence in April.

“It will be in April. We will announce the exact date soon. Thank you… for now only HRE is confirmed,” the airline said, after questions about the Victoria Falls route surfaced.

RwandAir was initially expected to start Harare flights in 2014.

This comes as Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) chief executive David Chawota in 2015 said negotiations had taken long to conclude because three countries were involved.

“This year we are now pretty confident that RwandAir will be coming into Harare before the end of the year.

“The talks were not finished because the operations they wanted to embark on required talks between more than one country. It was not just Rwanda-Zimbabwe but Rwanda, Zimbabwe and South Africa so the talks took a little bit longer,” Chawota said then

This comes as RwandAir’s chief executive John Mirenge, recently hinted that the airline was keen to fly into Zimbabwe, in line with the newly-introduced flights to Lusaka

Following a decade of economic meltdown that ended in 2008 which saw many airlines shunning the route due to depressed business, the country has been trying to lure new airlines.

In an attempt to attract more airlines, Zimbabwe undertook a $150-million face-lift of the Victoria Falls airport which now has a passenger handling capacity of 1,5 million per year, up from 500 000.

Since 2009, the country has welcomed back airlines such as Air Namibia, EgyptAir, LAM Mozambique Airlines and Fastjet of Tanzania.

Air Malawi and Emirates have already started flying into Zimbabwe.

In July last year, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi reportedly met RwandAir officials in Kigali on the sidelines of an African Union summit to discuss the possibility of the airline servicing the Kigali-Lusaka- Harare route.

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