October 17, 2019: In an attempt to expand its African presence, Qatar Airways is mulling to buy a stake in RwandAir.

As per The EastAfrican, the negotiations between the two state-owned carriers are at an advanced stage. For Qatar Airways, this move will help it link with markets across continents while it struggles to operate closer to home.

At the moment, Qatar is outcasted by four of its neighbours due to claims of supporting terrorism. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have all cut trade and diplomatic ties with the nation. Therefore, by gaining a presence in Africa, the carrier will be able to replace markets that it has lost across the Middle East.

It is not just Qatar that will benefit from this deal. RwandAir will be transferring technical and maintenance departments of the carrier to Qatar. These operations are currently very costly for the Rwandan airline. By transferring these sectors, the RwandAir will be able to push efforts in other areas.

Currently, under government control, RwandAir may soon see autonomy. The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has suggested that his government is open to privatising the carrier to help enable expansion plans to come into fruition.

The airline was founded in 2002 after Air Rwanda ceased operations. The operator now serves 26 destinations and operates 12 airliners. These plans may see the airline grow further.

Qatar and Rwanda have built a strong relationship with each other over the years. In 2012, Qatar Airways introduced daily flights to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Since then, authorities of both countries have continued to uphold dialogue. Earlier this year, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Kagame. The visit was part of the three-day trip and concluded with a series of signed bilateral agreements.

As part of the agreements, Qatar is set to become a key investor in Bugesera Airport, which is set to open in Kigali. Once complete, the building will become Rwanda’s largest airport. Both airlines are striving to expand as part of their countries’ foreign policy. Once a negotiation is concluded, the deal will help both parties achieve their plans of growth.

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