Qatar Airways Eyes Growth by Entering the Heart of Africa via RwandAir
In order to ease Africa travelling for its customers, Qatar Airways is planning to purchase a 49 percent stake in Rwanda’s state carrier, RwandAir. Eyeing further growth, the Gulf airline has picked up Kigali, Rwanda.
In December 2019, Qatar Airways settled for buying a 60 percent stake in the Bugesera International Airport. Its second phase is set to open in 2032, the first phase is sure to open in 2022. Post completion, it will be the largest and the most modern airport of the African subcontinent.
About the investment in RwandAir, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar-al-Baker said that the “location, the stability of the country, and the very favourable business environment that exists in that country” is one of the prime reason for selecting it. He added, “In Africa, there is a big demand for air travel which today is very poorly connected, so we always look at opportunities in our field to do investments similar to what we have done in the past.”
With the RwandAir investment, Qatar Airways will be able to expand its scope in one of the world’s fastest growing aviation regions. Speaking to reporters about the deal, Al-Baker said, “We are very tough negotiators … we will take our time to negotiate.”
Prior investments of Qatar Airways clearly state the strategic expansion that the Gulf airline is aiming for. Currently, it owns stakes in Chile’s LATAM Airlines Group, Cathay Pacific, China Southern and the Parent of British Airways – International Airlines Group.
Previously, blocked airspace from some of its neighbours forced Qatar Airways to take longer routes. There were no restrictions on non-Qatari airlines coming to Qatar. As per Al-Baker, Qatar Airways might increase its existing hold in LATAM and plan work with fellow shareholder Delta Air Lines in near future.
Speaking to Reuters, Al-Baker said, “When the right opportunity comes and at the right price we will look at increasing our investment in LATAM”. Moreover, the CEO mentioned the firms’ plans to work with the US Airline, Delta at its Atlantic hub. “We can transfer passengers on each other. We are the only Middle Eastern carrier going into their hub so there is huge opportunity”, he said.
As a part of its expansion plans, Qatar Airways is extending operations in the former Yugoslavia in 2020 and 2021. Promising five-times a week flights, the airline will start seasonal flights to Dubrovnik in summers. Potential fights to Pristina and Ljublana are also on the charts.
Speaking about future plans Zmago Skobir, the General Manager of Ljubljana Airport claimed, “The East continues to be another big market for us which is mostly served through Turkish Airlines. In my opinion, we do need flights to the Arabian Peninsula, which would act as a transfer point to other destinations. These are primarily Dubai and Doha. We have been working hard on this matter over the past six years, and we expect progress very soon.”
The recent investment in RwandAir seems to be based on the slow growth of the airline in the Africa region. At the World’s Airlines Awards 2018, it was nominated among the airlines which have shown the most improvement.
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