Tuesday, 23 October 2012

RwandAir’s new CRJ900 jet touches down

The newly acquired CRJ900 jet upon arrival at Kigali International Airport yetserday. 
The New Times / Timothy Kisambira.
At exactly 3:55pm yesterday the long waited brand new CRJ900 aircraft purchased by RwandAir touched down at the Kigali International Airport.

At the tarmac, top government officials, diplomats as well as officials from aviation sector were present to witness the landing of the new Bombardier plane from Canada.

The new Canadian Regional Jet (CRJ), according to Bombardier, the manufacturer,  is the first of its kind to operate in the east and central African sky.

The plane, that has seven business class seats and 68 in economy, will be operating in east and central Africa.

Speaking to reporters shortly after touchdown, RwandAir Chief Executive Officer, John Mirenge, said the new plane will concentrate on regional routes.

The national flag carrier has been using a big plane to fly to the region which Mirenge said was costly in terms fuel consumption.

“We want to increase our destinations and by the end of this year we shall be operating in South Sudan, Cameroon, Zambia and Zanzibar,” he said.

Mirenge further disclosed that RwandAir targets to own 18 planes within the next six years.

The new acquisition brings the number of planes owned by RwandAir to six. The seventh air craft, also a CRJ900, is expected next month.

The Minister of Infrastructure, Albert Nsengiyumva, said that the acquisition of the new jets was in line with government plans to expand the aviation industry.

“The purpose of purchasing more planes is also to attract other airline companies. Besides, the number of passengers coming to Rwanda is increasing because of different destinations that RwandAir makes,” the minister said.

He emphasised that it was important to boost the capacity of the national carrier so as to compete favourably with other airlines.

The minister added that plans are underway to renovate and upgrade other airports, including Kamembe and Rubavu as well as construct a new one in Bugesera.

Rwanda’s aviation industry has experienced rapid growth with more airlines adding Kigali to their destinations.

The most recent entrants include, South African Airways, Qatar Air and the Turkish Airlines.

Others operating in the country are SN-Brussels, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Uganda.

Available statistics indicate that for the past three years, passenger traffic at Kigali International Airport has increased at a rate of 15 per cent per year.  Currently, 400, 000 passengers use the airport annually.

In an interview with The New Times, Raphael Haddad, the vice president of Bombardier in charge of Middle East and Africa, said the jet was manufactured to suit the African climate.

The interior of the plane brings new, modern, sculpted sidewalls and window features meant to enhance passengers’ exterior views.


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