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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Qatar’s Sh. 131 billion Rwanda airport set to beat JKIA

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Bugesera International Airport: Rwanda and Qatar have entered into a partnership that will see the building of Sh. 131 billion Bugesera International Airport outside Kigali. The airport, when complete, will have the capacity to handle 14 million visitors annually. This is double the current capacity that is handled by the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Currently, JKIA has a passenger capacity of 7.5 million. The airport handles 6.5 million passengers annually. This means that once the airport is complete, Rwanda will be on its way to becoming the regional aviation hub.

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Following the deal, Qatar Airways will take a 60 percent stake. The project will involve the building, owning, and operating the new airport.

“The agreements signed today mark a key milestone in the development of Rwanda’s vibrant aviation sector, in the context of the excellent bilateral relationship between Qatar and Rwanda. The new airport is being redesigned to accommodate seven million passengers per year, with a second phase for 14 million passengers a year expected to start by 2032,” said a statement on the deal.

Bugesera will be the country’s third international airport after Kigali International Airport and Kamembe International Airport in western Rwanda.

According to  report in the Business Daily, the proposed airport will be more than double the investment that Kenya would have invested in the now cancelled Green Field Terminal at the JKIA, which was meant to strengthen the country’s position as the leading aviation hub in the region.

“Rwanda has been seeking category one status to enable its national carrier, RwandAir, to fly directly to the US and it is likely that with the new investment, this will increase its chances of getting the approval,” says the report.

The report further says that Qatar Airways will likely use the airport as its East African regional hub where it can connect passengers to other destinations such the US and Europe, without necessarily having to fly back to Doha as is the case now.

“Unconfirmed reports indicate that Qatar Airways is keen on operating some of its flights from Kigali, a move that will save the carrier operational costs given that it has to cover longer distances to Doha following an air blockade by four Middle-East countries,” it says.

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