Qatar and Rwanda cement new airport hub deal

The deal between Qatar Airways and Rwanda for the new $1.3 billion international airport near Kigali has been officially signed.

There has been a general awareness of the Gulf state’s interest in the fast-growing Rwandan market since a state visit to Doha by Rwanda’s President Kagame and a return trip by Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in April
Akbar Al Baker, the Qatar Airways CEO and the powerhouse behind Qatar’s aviation industry visited Kigali for the 2019 Aviation Africa Summit and talked there about the ambitions and the opportunities for the two nations to work together.
Yesterday that was realised when Sheikh Tamim returned to Kigali for the International anti-corruption Excellence (ACE) awards that bear his name, and took the opportunity to join President Kagame and sign the agreements which creates a joint venture to build, own and operate a new international airport in the Bugersara district near to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.
Work had already been going on at Bugesara through a partnership with Portugal’s Mota Engal but has slowed down over the past 18 months. Mota Engal will continue as main contractor for the building of the airport under the new partnership but sold its 75% holding to Rwanda’s Aviation Travel & Logistics company (ATL) – the government’s aviation industry arm.
ACL will hold 40% of the shareholding of the new company while Qatar will take the majority 60% holding.
The new airport will have a capacity of seven million passengers in phase one, increasing to 14 million in the second phase which should be complete by 2032. A development that will help Rwanda achieve its ambition as a regional hub and help the growth of its national carrier Rwandair. The new proposal increases the passenger capacity fourfold over the original Bugesara Airport Company plans.
The airport is as yet unnamed, but sources in Kigali say that a name could be revealed soon.
Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete has told local newspapers that the new airport will meet international and sustainability standards and targets.
Gatete also said that when complete, the airport could be Rwanda’s biggest employer.