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African carrier RwandAir is to launch long-haul flights into Europe from the first quarter of next year with the launch of flights between Kigali and London. This will be followed by expansion into Asia and by flights across to the Atlantic to North America. The growth is part of the airline’s strategy to penetrate overseas markets and open Kigali to the rest of the world.
Confirming its long expected long-haul expansion at the World Travel Market in London this week, RwandAir officials also confirmed discussions are taking place with Airbus to supplement the airline’s A330 long-haul fleet with modern generation A350 equipment from the end of the decade, positioning it as a major player connecting Africa with the rest of the world.
The East African carrier recently introduced its first widebodied jet, an A330-200, into its fleet and a larger A330-300 is due to arrive to complement this. The aircraft will be used to launch flights into London from January 2017, serving Gatwick Airport in the UK capital. The UK capital has been selected ahead of Frankfurt and Paris as the carrier’s first European point of call, a significant boost in the country’s post-Brexit referendum environment.
Alongside the long-haul expansion, RwandAir continues to boost its presence in Africa. It has recently added flights to Cotonou, Benin and Abidjan, Ivory Coast and plans flights to Bamako, Mali; Conakry, Guinea; Dakar, Senegal; Durban, South Africa; Harare, Zimbabwe and Lilongwe, Malawi. It also expects to introduce flights to Mumbai in India.