Africa is the most challenging continent for air transport development, facing lack of infrastructure, a failure by many governments to adopt supportive policies to encourage growth, frequently high taxes and all too often, corruption. On the other side of the coin, long distances, a growing middle class and a desire, by many countries, to foster trade and tourism should provide numerous opportunities.
It’s sad that there have been numerous failures in the history of African aviation and many airlines are struggling today.
One country which is seeing success in overcoming these difficulties is Rwanda. It established its airline relatively recently in 2002. The country is putting its troubled social history behind it and turning outward to the world with the ambition to become the Singapore of Africa. Already known for its natural beauty and as one of the homes of the rare silver back gorilla there is potential to grow tourism.
Previously reliant on indirect services to connect it internationally, the development of a growing network of direct services by Rwandair is helping to put Rwanda on the map. The airline has a modern fleet for its long haul and inter-African services. London joined the map in 2017. Flights to New York are planned for 2019.
I’m delighted we are going to be able to explore the airline’s strategy and growth plans with its CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo as part of this year’s WTM.
She brings international business experience, gained in Canada before taking up the helm at the airline earlier this year. I’m also looking forward to learning her views about the lack of woman leaders in the global airline business in a year when this attracted attention at the recent IATA AGM It’s going to be an exciting session. Don’t miss it!