Photograph — USA Today

Egypt’s national carrier, EgyptAir has become the eighth airline with a direct route to Kigali after it launched two weekly flights connecting Cairo and the Rwandan capital city on Saturday.

The new Cairo-Kigali route affirms “Rwanda’s ambition to make aviation a pillar in the economic transformation of the country,” Rwanda’s Minister of State for Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, remarked at the launch.

The East African nation has also restructured the sector to accommodate more airlines from other countries as part of efforts to achieve its goal of becoming the aviation hub in the region.

“We are continuing to achieve that target step by step. As part of our aviation policy, we have liberalised our airspace, which is why we are receiving our brothers from Egypt and other African countries with open arms,” Uwihanganye added.

Egyptian ambassador to Rwanda, Ahmed El Ansary, revealed that EgyptAir chose Rwanda as it is one of the fastest developing economies on the continent, while he expressed his optimism over both countries’ national carriers.

“I can see a lot of potential between EgyptAir and RwandAir. You know that EgyptAir flies to a number of significant destinations in Europe, North America and Asia and RwandAir also flies to different capitals in Central and West Africa,” El Ansary said.

On the benefits of the new route, the state minister explained that it comes with a lot of economic opportunities, including new jobs for citizens of both countries. This is aided by the fact that relations between Rwanda and Egypt have been cordial in recent years. Consequently, there has been an increase in the number of goods traded between the two countries.

According to available data, as reported by the New Times, Rwanda’s exports to Egypt are worth over $30million, while Egypt’s exports to Rwanda are valued at more than $65million. Thus, the airspace is regarded as a huge boost to bilateral and trade ties between both countries.

“There is a lot of potential in many areas, for instance, tea. Egypt is one of the biggest consumers of tea in Africa and the world and Rwanda produces some of the best tea in the world … Egypt also produces many materials which are needed in Rwanda. EgyptAir will facilitate trade between our two countries,” Uwihanganye said.

Moreover, Africans have had to travel through Europe or the Middle East to connect to other African cities. Thus, the opening of direct airspace between countries in the region by African airlines will help reduce the cost of travelling by air across the continent.

Although the new route will increase traffic and trade between Kigali and Cairo, the benefits are not limited to the two capitals. The development signals hope for the actualisation of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) project, of which Rwanda is a pioneer and Egypt a member.

EgyptAir joins Moroccan national carrier, Royal Air Maroc (RAM), in flying to East African cities, after the latter announced flights to five cities in the Horn of Africa last year. This will further facilitate the movement of people and goods across the North and East Africa sub-regions.

The flights from Cairo to Kigali will be on Thursday and Saturday, while flights from Kigali to Cairo will be on Friday and Sunday, with a stopover at Entebbe – a town in Central Uganda. There will also be promotional offers to encourage more people to travel to Egypt, one of Africa’s leading tourist destinations.

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