RwandAir has upgraded to a bigger aircraft type between Kigali, Harare and Cape Town just one month after launching the route, says Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris.
Rwanda’s national carrier began flying the route four times a week on May 16 using a 75-seater Bombardier CRJ900 regional jet. RwandAir Country Manager, Thembela Dladla confirmed the upgrade to a 154-seater B737-800 came into effect on June 15 in response to demand and will remain in effect until the end of August, at which stage a possible extension will be re-evaluated depending on demand.
Speaking at the AviaDev Aviation Development Conference in Cape Town, Harris said Cape Town was experiencing strong demand for air services from across West, East and Southern Africa. Its top five fastest growing destinations in Africa are Walvis Bay, Victoria Falls, Mauritius, Maun and Dakar (the last currently not served non-stop). The top five un-served destinations in Africa from where significant demand is being received include Lagos, Maputo, Lusaka, Accra and Dar es Salaam. He said Cape Town Air Access was establishing “deep connections” between Cape Town and the rest of Africa, which was helping to transform the city from a seasonal tourist destination into a year-round business hub.
Harris said since the inception of Cape Town Air Access three years ago, four new African airlines have connected to Cape Town: Ethiopian Airlines, TAAG Angolan Airlines, Kenya Airways and RwandAir, providing eight new destinations across the continent: Addis Ababa, Harare, Kigali, Livingstone, Luanda, Maun, Nairobi and Victoria Falls. This represents 400 000 two-way seats out of Africa, representing one-third of the total seat count added over the past three years.
Route expansions since the beginning of the year include Air Mauritius having added a wide-body aircraft in March and increasing its frequencies to three flights a week from October. Kenya Airways increased its frequencies to four a week in March. TAAG is planning a seasonal daily flight from December 1. Airlink is increasing its capacity in July to Victoria Falls, using an 83-seater AVRO RJ85 with a business class.