RwandAir has launched a new African cargo hub in partnership with Qatar Airways Cargo, aiming to turn Kigali into a regional cargo powerhouse and strengthen the country’s links with key overseas markets. The initiative will help RwandAir develop its cargo division as part of its long-term strategic plan, which has seen cargo carried rise by nearly 26% in the last five years. The new Kigali Cargo Hub is expected to boost exports and imports around Africa, with customers benefiting from reliable, high-quality cargo services across the continent.
Partnership with Qatar Airways Cargo
Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) provided consultancy support to RwandAir Cargo to help improve its already highly successful cargo handling performance. The partnership saw Qatar Airways Cargo fly its Boeing 777x freighter to mark the official launch of the new cargo facility. Yvonne Makolo, CEO of RwandAir, and Guillaume Halleux, Qatar Airways Cargo’s Chief Officer, welcomed the aircraft’s arrival, alongside local dignitaries, freight forwarders, partners, and customers.
Yvonne Makolo expressed pride in the partnership, highlighting the opportunities it will create across Africa:
“Africa is home to a hugely diverse economy, with businesses and entrepreneurs looking for better connections to create new markets and expand inward investment. Together we have created a fantastic new facility to meet this growing demand across Africa.”
Guillaume Halleux praised the potential of the African market, highlighting that,
“Africa is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, yet for it to develop to its full potential requires investment in logistics and infrastructures. Qatar and Rwanda have long-enjoyed bilateral trade agreements, with both Qatar Airways and Qatar Investment Authority investing in the construction of the new Kigali Airport and RwandAir.”
Investment in cargo capabilities
RwandAir has focused on cargo capabilities since the airline’s inception, and the recent pandemic has reinforced the importance of cargo, especially for RwandAir. The airline’s location in the heart of Africa has placed it in a unique position to reach every corner of the continent, providing seamless connectivity and promoting trade. The new cargo hub will enable the launch of new freighter services to key destinations across Africa and the Middle East, including Johannesburg, Lagos, Lusaka, Brazzaville, Harare, Maputo, Entebbe, Nairobi, and Sharjah in the UAE.
RwandAir’s recent acquisition of its third wide-body aircraft, an Airbus A330-200, and the launch of direct flights to Paris in June, will ensure Rwanda has greater cargo connectivity, not just regionally, but also internationally, across Europe, the Middle East, China, and beyond. Under the partnership with Qatar Airways, a Boeing 777X will fly twice a week from Doha to Kigali with a scheduled onward service to Entebbe, Nairobi, and Liège, then back to Doha via either Oslo/Lyon.
Future-oriented African air cargo network
Qatar Airways Cargo’s first cargo hub outside Qatar, in collaboration with RwandAir, creates a strong foundation on which to expand a future-oriented African air cargo network and meet the 3-5% annual economic growth forecast for the continent over the next decade. More African destinations are due to be added to the joint airline network at a later stage. The new Kigali Cargo Hub is expected to boost African exports and imports, strengthen links with key overseas markets and enhance the reliability of cargo services across the continent.