Rwanda has concluded arrangements with its national carrier, RwandAir, and other partners to commence weekly flights from Brussels to fly in Rwandans abroad. Every Friday, starting from May 1st, Rwandan students and residents abroad will be flown back home, from the Belgian capital.
As the summer season approaches, the holiday’s breeze seems to have been in and out of towns since the beginning of the current global pandemic. Therefore, the Rwandan government is implementing this new move so that its citizens, especially foreign students, do not get stranded in Europe when the summer holiday begins.
In an interview on Thursday 23rd of April, the Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister, Vincent Biruta said, “this is meant to facilitate Rwandans, mainly students who want to come back for their summer holidays because they don’t have where to stay after school.”
According to Matilde Mutantabana, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United States (US), 495 Rwandans studying in the US have indicated interests to return home, plus another 16 non-students.
In the wake of the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Rwanda, like many other nations in sub-Saharan Africa, implemented stiff measures to curb the virus spread within its borders. Schools were closed, public events stopped and international trips were cancelled till further notice. But the country’s passenger flights have been actively used to export food items and essential goods to Europe and Asia since the pandemic began. Most times it returns back to the country with empty seats. These empty seats are what the government is looking to utilise.
Rwandans, particularly those in the United States, have been advised to book their flights to Brussels through KLM, Delta, or United Airlines from their respective cities to connect to RwandAir. Those located in countries where there are airlines that still operate, including Canada and Europe, can also book their connecting flights to RwandAir.
Since the beginning of the new coronavirus lockdown, the country has lost millions of dollars in its aviation sector due to the implementation of international travel bans for all passenger flights. This laudable move by the government would help RwandAir generate more revenues from returning members of its diaspora community.
So far, Europe, Asia and America are the worst hit by the current ravaging pandemic, the government has recommended all returning passengers to be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at appropriate locations they have designated.