Qatar Airways has resumed its operations in Kigali with a direct flight to Doha — the carrier’s central hub — after a brief halt.
The Middle Eastern airline said it would resume direct flights connecting Kigali with Doha this month, following a suspension of direct flights two months ago.
Direct flights to Kigali via Entebbe were halted following a diplomatic crisis that saw Qatar’s gulf neighbours impose an air and trade blockade, which affected the carrier’s operations. The airline was forced to temporarily halt some routes.
Passengers from Kigali were forced to connect to flights to Doha in Entebbe, where the direct flight to Doha made a stopover.
The distance to Doha from Kigali was 3,807km before the blockade but it increased to 4,087km after the crisis. Qatar Airways’ passengers were forced to connect through Nairobi for the past two months.
Efforts to get a comment from the airline were futile, as the Qatar Airway’s office in Kigali declined to give a comment to this paper.
Effects of the Suspension
According to travel sector players, the suspension of the route by Qatar Airways’ two months ago strained the travel industry because many long distance travellers prefer the airline.
“Qatar Airways is one of the big players in the airline industry because it offers many destinations. This makes it an airline of choice for many people travelling to Asia, Europe or US,” said Eugene Nshimiyimana managing director of One World Travel.
The carrier upgraded to the wide-body aircraft Airbus 330 from A320, which it used to fly to Kigali-Doha through Entebbe.
The wide-body aircraft will reduce flying time from eight hours to seven hours.
Players in the travel industry say that by upgrading the route with a wide-body aircraft, Qatar Airways will tap into the growing number of transiting travellers who connect to flights through Kigali.
The number of passengers connecting through Kigali continues to grow.
Speaking to the BBC, the deputy chief executive of RwandaAir said the implementation of the open sky policy has seen the number of travellers connecting through Kigali increase.
Currently, over 20 airlines serve Kigali with over 320 international flights weekly.