Aviation experts say by Qatar buying shares in RwandAir, it could enable it to solidify its presence in the African market given its current woes with its Gulf neighbours.
Qatar Airways was banned from flying over Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates. since mid -2017 it was also banned in Bahrain due to a dispute between it and the Gulf states. Therefore, buying a stake in the RwandAir will support its expansion into Africa as an alternative market after the ban from its key markets.
Despite still making loses, RwandAir has been expanding over the past decade, due to financial injections from the government, many of which are from external loans like the Eurobond.
With Qatar buying shares in RwandAir, it is going to handle maintenance and other technical aspects of its operations, which have been weighing down the carrier.
President Paul Kagame had in the past said that Rwanda was open to privatising RwandAir at the right time.
In April, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was in Rwanda which resulted to the signing of an agreement to bolster aviation investments and co-operation, with Qatar promising to become an investor in Rwanda’s new Bugesera Airport.
Rwanda also signed an air service agreement, on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments; and a memorandum of understanding on economic, commercial, and technical co-operation.
Early this year, the Rwandan parliament approved a bilateral investment treaty between Rwanda and Qatar, that was signed in 2018. This has paved the way for future investment co-operation between the two Rwanda and Qatar.
Qatar chief executive Akbar Al Baker said he was looking to expand the airline’s footprint in Africa in In an aviation summit held in Kigali early this year,
RwandAir recently added new routes to Guangzhou, Tel Aviv and Kinshasa as it seeks to take advantage of the aviation opportunities created by the growth of the trade and tourism sectors.