KIGALI – Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir on weekend launched two weekly flights connecting Kigali and Cairo, a development officials say will ease the cost and movement of people and goods.
The first flight of EgyptAir, operated by the airline’s Boeing 737-800’s touched down at Kigali International Airport at 3:30am on Sunday and was greeted by a ‘water salute’ from Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, making it the 8th airline to have direct flights to Kigali, a local daily reported.
The Minister of State in charge of Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, who officiated at the launch of the EgyptAir flights to Kigali, was quoted as saying that the opening of the Cairo-Kigali route by the EgyptAir, confirms Rwanda’s ambition to become an aviation hub.
“The arrival of EgyptAir affirms Rwanda’s ambition to make aviation a pillar in the economic transformation of the country. We are continuing to achieve that target step by step. As part of our aviation policy, we have liberalised our airspace, which is why we are receiving our brothers from Egypt and other African countries with open arms,” he said.
“EgyptAir is an African airline. With Rwanda being one of the pioneers of the Single Africa Air Transport Market, which Egypt is also a member of, having EgyptAir coming here means a lot to Rwanda and it also means a lot for the bilateral relations between Egypt and Rwanda,” Uwihanganye said, adding that it also created close links between civil aviation authorities of both countries.
He said that EgyptAir opening the route also comes with new economic opportunities and jobs for both countries.
“There are a lot of economic opportunities because relations between Rwanda and Egypt have in recent years warmed up and we are seeing improvement in terms of trade –an increase in the amount of goods we export to Egypt and what we import from Egypt,” he said.
Mr. Uwihanganye said that the opening of airspace between African countries will help reduce the cost of travelling by air, which remains prohibitive. He said with African airlines directly connecting countries, Africans will no longer have to travel through Europe or Middle East to connect to African cities –something he said will benefit passengers.
The Egyptian ambassador to Rwanda, Ahmed El Ansary said Rwanda has been keen on opening her airspace to Egypt, to facilitate trade and bilateral relations between the two countries.
“We always talk about the challenges of connectivity between our African capitals and I guess with EgyptAir on the ground today in Kigali is a step in the right direction,” he said
The flights from Cairo to Kigali will be on Thursday and Saturday, while flights from Kigali to Cairo will be on Friday and Sunday, with a stopover at Entebbe international airport in Uganda.
The airline also said it will be running promotional offers through their country general sales agent Alpine Travels to encourage more people to travel to Egypt, which is one of the continent’s leading tourist destinations.