Qatar Airways Cargo has announced the opening of its first cargo hub outside Qatar in partnership with RwandAir. The Kigali Africa Hub is part of a long-term strategic plan for the cargo division of RwandAir, which has seen cargo carried rise by nearly 26% in the last five years.
The partnership saw Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) provide consultancy support to RwandAir Cargo to help improve its already highly successful cargo handling performance. Qatar Airways Cargo Chief Officer, Guillaume Halleux, and Yvonne Makolo, CEO of RwandAir, officially launched operations at the Kigali Africa Hub.
At 13:00 Central Africa Time on May 3, 2023, Qatar Airways Cargo’s Moved by People Boeing 777 freighter landed at Kigali International Airport. The Boeing 777 aircraft will fly from Doha to Kigali twice a week. Since March, Qatar Airways Cargo has created an intra-Africa service between Kigali and Lagos three times a week, and a weekly service from Istanbul via Doha to Kigali, all operated by an Airbus A310 aircraft. New destinations from Kigali will be announced soon.
Qatar Airways Cargo currently serves 28 cities in Africa with a mixture of freighter and belly-hold services, carrying up to 2,800 tonnes to and from Africa. The launch of Qatar Airways Cargo’s first cargo hub outside Qatar and in collaboration with RwandAir creates a strong foundation on which to expand a future-oriented African air cargo network and meet the 3%-5% annual economic growth forecast for the continent over the next decade, according to the press release.
Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways, said: “Africa is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, yet for it to develop to its full potential requires investment in logistics infrastructures. Qatar and Rwanda have long-enjoyed bilateral trade agreements, with both Qatar Airways and Qatar Investment Authority having previously invested in Kigali International Airport and RwandAir. It was, therefore, a logical step that Qatar Airways Cargo supports RwandAir in its cargo ambitions. Our customers will benefit from both a reliable intra-African network through our Kigali hub, as well as enhanced service levels and cost synergies. We are proud to partner with RwandAir in establishing Kigali as the Central African hub in preparation for the Next Generation of air cargo on this fast-growing continent.”
The launch of the Kigali Africa Hub will help RwandAir develop Kigali into a regional cargo powerhouse, boosting exports and imports around Africa and strengthening links with key overseas markets. Yvonne Makolo, CEO of RwandAir, said: “We are very proud to partner with Qatar Airways Cargo to launch today the brand-new Kigali Cargo Hub, which will open up new cargo opportunities across Africa. Africa is home to a hugely diverse economy, with businesses and entrepreneurs looking for better connections to create new markets and expand inward investment. Together we have created a fantastic new facility to meet this growing demand across Africa.”
In the run-up to the Kigali Cargo Hub launch, QAS Cargo, a subsidiary of Qatar Airways, provided consultancy support to RwandAir Cargo to help improve its cargo handling performance. A team from QAS Cargo visited the cargo handling facilities and presented RwandAir with a detailed action plan for operational improvements and handling performance. The team is now working together on a future roadmap, including a proposed improvement plan for its warehouse infrastructure, which will form part of a long-term strategic plan for the cargo division of RwandAir.
Cargo has become an important component to RwandAir’s operation, which has grown in tandem with the airline. The recent pandemic also acted as a catalyst for the importance of cargo, supported by the entry into service of its first dedicated freighter aircraft – a Boeing 737-800 – and enabled the launch of new freighter services to the airline’s key destinations across Africa and the Middle East.