RwandAir on Friday inaugurated its maiden flight to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja with 30 passengers on board Boeing 737-700 aircraft from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.
Ibiyemi Odusi, the airline’s Country Manager, Nigeria, said in a statement that the commencement of Abuja-Kigali route was part of the airline’s determination to expand its business to the nation’s capital.
Odusi said the airline had decided to give the diplomatic community and government officials the opportunity to experience direct flights to Kigali and other parts of the world through the destination.
She said that Rwandair would be operating four times weekly flight to and from Abuja – Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, unlike Lagos where it operates daily flights.
“Nigerian travellers can now fly direct from Abuja through Rwanda Air without having to go to Lagos because; if you have not started a business in Abuja you have not started in Nigeria.
“We have been in Niger since 2012 but this is significant for us because it is something that has been on our minds before now, but we have made it happened.
“All this while, the diplomatic community, government officials probably have been segregated because they have not been able to enjoy RwandAir.
“This is because most people won’t have the luxury of start going through Lagos, but effective today, they can fly seamlessly without having to go to Lagos.
“As an airline, we know that this is the political capital of the country and as Nigeria is expanding we have to be part of what it is doing.
“Now we know we are doing what Nigerian travellers want because we cannot just be in the commercial capital without being where the stakeholders are,’’ she said.
Odusi said the airline was aware of the competition in the industry, adding RwandAir’s unique selling point would stand it out such as its safety record and on-time performance.
She expressed optimism that the airline would be able to achieve 80 to 85 percent load factor on the Abuja route through efficient service delivery.
The Rwandan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Stanislas Kamanzi, commended the Federal Government, aviation agencies and management of RwandAir in Nigeria for making it possible for the opening of Abuja route.
Kamanzi said the new route was a product of the long-standing friendship between Nigeria and Rwanda, adding that the Abuja-Kigali route would deepen trade relationship between the two countries.
According to him, this is coming at the right time when Africa is moving toward integration and the fastest mode of transportation is through the air.
“We look forward to growing trade and diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Rwanda as well between East and West Africa.
“That is what we need for our people to tap the wealth of our continent,’’ he said.
Also, Hajara Musa, International Terminal Manager, FAAN, who represented the Airport Manager, said the authority was ready to give the airline the needed cooperation to enable it to succeed.
Musa said the airport was always ready to receive more flights to encourage trade facilitation by the government.
The flight, which landed at exactly 1:25 pm had 30 passengers on board and was billed to transport another 50 passengers to Accra, Ghana before returning to Abuja to depart for Kigali later in the day.