Rwanda’s state-owned RwandAir welcomed the latest addition to its fleet Thursday — a brand new jumbo-sized Airbus 300-310. According to the New Times, this is the 11th aircraft in the national carrier’s fleet, which has been growing steadily over the past five years. The Airbus 330-300 is RwandAir’s third acquisition in less than three months.
The aircraft was received at the Kigali International Airport Friday with a traditional water salute, amidst excitement from spectators and airport staff.
Infrastructure Minister James Musoni said the new addition will allow RwandAir to compete globally and boost the airlines capacity to serve its customer base in Rwanda and around the East African region.
“The new aircraft is a manifestation of the good and visionary leadership of President Paul Kagame and RwandAir’s commitment to continue growing,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir, John Mirenge, described the addition of the wide-bodied 274-seater aircraft as, “yet another milestone that will strengthen our capacity to spread our wings across Africa and beyond.”
The Airbus series of aircraft’s have become the toast of today’s aviation industry, thanks to their proven fuel economy, in-flight comfort, and massive haulage capability.
Rwanda is a landlocked country of 11 million people bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Congo DR. In the absence of a direct seaport, the country compensates by developing a strong presence in the sky to facilitate international travel for leisure and business.
While it is easy to associate Rwanda with events from the tragic 1994 genocide that saw nearly a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu’s killed, the country and its people have mostly healed and moved on. Rwanda’s infrastructure and economy, which were severely crippled in the aftermath of the war, have since grown in leaps and bounds.
With a GDP growth rate of around 8 percent per year over the last decade, Rwanda currently boasts one of East Africa’s fastest growing economies. Data released by the International Monetary Fund reveals that Rwanda’s growth in 2015 was largely driven by construction, services, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Under President Kagame, the country has made significant efforts to transform from a rural agrarian economy to a modern knowledge-based economy with a burgeoning middle-class. The government’s determination to develop the ICT sector has helped the country attain one of the highest internet user penetration rates in Africa.
RwandAir currently covers 19 routes around Africa, including to Cotonou, Abidjan, Nairobi, Entebbe, Mombasa, Bujumbura, Lusaka, Juba, Douala, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Johannesburg, Dubai, Lagos, Libreville, and Brazzaville. More routes are planned in the coming years.