Rwandair begins daily flights to Lagos Oct, connects Mumbai, Guangzhou

…offers Nigerians baggage allowance

East  African carrier, RwandAir is to beging daily flight services between Kigali and Lagos begining from October 1, 2016.

This is just as the airline plans to connect flight services between Lagos and its hub in Kigali into Far Eastern routes including Mumbai in India and Guangzhou in China, according to its Country Manager, Ms. Ibiyemi Odusi.
Part of reasons why the airline decided to operate into these routes, she said is to bridge in services by the airlines operating on the route.
Odusi said the airline will deploy a  bigger aircraft on the route to give passengers value for their money .
She spoke of plans by Rwand Air to extend flight services between Kigali and China as well as Mumbai in India .
Odusi said : ” We are planning to launch two new routes for the Nigerian market, they are Mumbai and Guangzhou in China .We did our marketing research and discovered that Nigeria has a need for more carriers into the Far Eastern routes , and as a strong player on our current routes , we thought there is a great need to satisfy our passengers .
” By September , Rwand Air is taking delivery of an Airbus  A330, with a flat bed in business class , free onboard WIFI, Mobile Network, World-Class Inflight Entertainment which will serve these new routes . By December, we take delivery of another Airbus to further service the routes to complement our Nigerian routes.
As an airline, we feel to need to empathise with our customers by giving them quality aircraft as travel time increases on routes. We are also improving safety with the training of our personnel.” 
The Country Manager said the airline has pursued an ambitious fleet growth programme with eight aircraft in service in the four years of its existence .
She said before the end of the year, the number of aircraft on the fleet of Rwand Air would have increased to ten brand new equipment .
She said the carrier will offer Nigerian passengers, generous baggage  allowance on the new routes, it has introduced , with a bigger aircraft that would give them enough space for their baggage in addition to offering competitive fares to attract passengers interested in medical tourism in India.
Odusi said : ” There is a huge gap in flight services for Nigerians interested in flying into Mumbia and Guangzhou. The number of airlines flying into these routes are not enough. That is why Rwand Air is tapping into this opportunity to further add value for our passengers. 
” We are driven by the core values of safety , on time departure and excellent customer services .” 
She spoke of plans by the airline to expend flights into more African destinations, including Khartoun , in Sudan, Abidjan, C
ote D’Ivoire and  Cotonou in Benin Republic and other African cities .
She said the  implementation of single skies for Africa will deepen the  air transport market in the continent.
Odusi said the removal of all restrictions concerning all agreements among African countries would enable African carriers spread their tentacles to all parts of the continent.
She said  if the single airspace policy for Africa  is accelerated, the challenge of intra – Aftican connections, which has affected many passengers would be eliminated as carriers could easily fly into different countries without the restrictions that hold them back.
She said this informed different initiative by players in the sector to promote the single sky policy, which would give opportunity for not very strong African carriers to level up with the stronger carriers from East, and Southern Africa.
 She also canvassed the pooling of resources of African countries in setting up aircraft maintenance facility, which she said will not only reduce the individual cost of aircraft maintenance but also create a pool of expertise in the continent.
Odusi said a review of some policies by government of some African countries will assist the growth and development of  African carriers and ultimately create more competition on the continent .
She described as phenomenal, the last four years of operations of the Central African airline’s operations in Nigeria, because of the gaps, the carrier has filled in offering quality services.
Odusi said if more African carriers are encouraged, fares on routes within and outside the continent could reduce
significantly, because some passengers have to travel to Europe first before they could get access into some African countries because of poor flight connectivity .
She said Rwand Air has remained relevant on Nigerian route, because the carrier has kept its promise to passengers, who are daily asking for improved services .
The Country Manager said the mission of the Central African carrier is to provide unsurpassed services in air
transportation by linking Rwanda and other parts of Africa .

She listed challenges of operating into Nigeria to include passenger perception about the home country of the carrier, w
hich they grappled with for some time.
She said : ” It has been good operating as an African carrier into Nigeria for the past four years, trying to raise the bar in provision of transport services. But, we have had to grapple with serious perception imbalance when we started operations in Nigeria four years ago because of the history of the country – Rwanda , the genocide, war and rebuilding and other issues. 
“But, all that we have overcome now, with the services we are rendering . Just like every country with its history, the
narrative has sinced changed .” 

She said healthy competition among African carriers would help to grow carriers in the continent , as the airline has d
eveloped core values of focussing on passengers as the essence of the business and how best to offer services that wouild make them stay with the brand.

” The passenger is the reason we are in business, that is why we keep pursuing integrity of 
safety as we are IOSA certified and deliver on time performamce, we try to deliver on everything we promise passengers, this way, the business would be on track . We try to leverage on customer satisfaction .”

She spoke of on going agreements including unilateral, bilateral and multi – lateral that Rwand Air has struck with other a
irlines and players to enable it remain relevant in the market .
She added that Rwand Air  carries out  seamless operations on the routes it operates within and outside Africa .

She said Rwand Air will key into the proposed single sky for African , because the policy when implemented will encourage t
he carrier to increase capacity and connect more African cities seamlessly .
Odusi said : ” The single sky policy will benefit Rwand Air, it will encourage us to pursue connectivity sealmessly into
more African cities. You know  the difficulties, many passengers face trying to connect within the continent. it is not seamless by any imagination . For some countries, youy have to fly into Europe first before coming into Africa.

“We need the support of African governments to see this policy through . African governments need to fast track review of s
ome policies , to make aviation grow in Africa.
” Some people have argued that the single sky for Africa will favour some strong carriers from some parts of the continent.
“I do not think so, the key to sucessful aviation is pursuit of partnership, all carriers have a role to play, all they need to do is to pursue different levels of partnership whether it is for airlines to get into code share agreements, interline agreements, ultimately, these will drive growth.” 
 She urged government to review some policies on airport taxes, which are not only prohibitive , but also multiple.
She said the new forex policy is not good for airlines because of the disparity between the official rate and the parallel m
arket, which sends a signal that something is wrong somewhere. 
” Government needs to consider reduction in airport charges and taxes. Not, just about harmonization, but reduction , thi would enable airlines have good return on their investment.
” Since 2012, when Rwand Air commenced operations in Nigeria, the flight frequency has been increasing. We started with four flights weekly, now we are operating six weekly flights and effective October 1st we will begin daily flights into Lagos and very soon when we get the approval we will commence flights between Abuja and Kigali.” 
She said air fares are high in Nigeria partly because of the exchange rate.
” The reason why air fares are high in Nigeria, is the inability of Nigerian and African carriers to develop
routes within the continent . This is a game of demand and supply, if we open up African destinations, the air fare will come down due to increase in passenger traffic . Partly, responsible for air fare increase is the few number of  European passengers on domestic routes.
” We are looking into interline  partnership with domestic carriers to distribute our passengers flying from Kigali into Lagos to other  destinations into Nigeria . That would be the kind of partnership we would appreciate . 
She spoke  of good relationship with trade and corporate partners, whom she said enjoy good commission from the airline .

She lauded the proposed electronic passport for Africa, saying it would accelerate the easy movement of persons and goods .
” If African countries could come together to pool their resources to set up an aircraft maintenance hangar, it would create job opportunities and reduce the strain on our foreign exchange .
By Sade Williams

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