oneworld Alliance Prepares To Grow In Africa With RwandAir Tie-Up

There’s been speculation about a possible oneworld membership for RwandAir since Qatar Airways entered into a strategic partnership with the African airline last summer. Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker is the current chairman of oneworld.

Al Baker announced this week a plan to bring RwandAir into the oneworld alliance, though it isn’t yet clear whether they’d become a full member of the alliance or a ‘Connect’ member like Fiji Airways.

“We will do everything within our ability to bring them to the standard to be ready to join as a full member or an associate member,” said Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways while speaking at the Aviation Summit that took place in Kigali this week.

…Rwandair CEO, Yvonne Makolo said that the airline is already working with Qatar airways and works are underway to upgrade the airline to the standards of Qatar Airways which is a five-star airline.

“Joining Oneworld will help us gradually improve our products and services and what we are offering to our passengers,” she said.

RwandAir Business Class

RwandAir would help fill a big gap within Africa for the alliance. Star Alliance has South African Airways and Ethiopian. SkyTeam at least has Kenya Airways. oneworld has Royal Air Maroc, and airlines outside of the region have limited service at best, with Qatar having the deepest reach.

The former Rwandair Express is 20 years old and Qatar Airways agreed to purchase a 49% stake in the historically loss-making airline last year. They operate a dozen aircraft including Airbus A330 widebodies and Boeing 737 narrowbodies. They serve Brussels and London in Europe; Dubai, Mumbai and Guangzhou in the Mideast and Asia Pacific; and nearly 20 destinations in Africa.

The Kigali-based carrier has had big ambitions, even trying to start U.S. service to the New York area via Accra. It’s good to see the possibility of larger partnerships for the airline – hopefully they can pull this off! – and also for oneworld which is in the process of bringing in Oman Air as well.

(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

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