The national carrier RwandAir will get a timely boost from the government following increased funding for the financial year 2020/21 after the airline’s operations were hampered by the New Coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, on Thursday while presenting the Budget Framework Paper at Parliament said that funding for the national carrier will increase from Rwf121.8bn to Rwf145.1bn this financial year to help the airline sustain operations.
The CEO of the airline Yvonne Makolo told KT Press that the airline will direct the funds in sustaining operations and expanding the airline in the coming months, with the hope that flights will resume.
“We are looking at both, sustaining operations and expanding the airline but for now we are waiting to see if borders will reopen and we resume flying,” Makolo said.
The airline, like many others around the globe, grounded flights as part of the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 but recently launched cargo flights in the region and beyond as an alternative as passenger flights remain suspended.
Last month, the airline announced that it would cut employees’ salaries by between 8 percent and 65 percent while the top management team forfeited their salaries but Makolo said the airline has not laid off any staff.
“We have not laid off any staff and we don’t hope to do so,” Makolo said, adding however that fully restoring operation will depend on COVID-19 subsiding.
RwandAir recently resumed cargo flights to and from Guangzhou, China, flights from Mwanza, Tanzania to Brussels as well as London in a bid to rake in revenue from the growing demand of goods.
Makolo said the plan is working out well with the demand for cargo shipment on the increase as many countries continue to impose travel restrictions to contain the spread of New Coronavirus.
Last month, President Paul Kagame said the government would consider investing more money in the airline to sustain its operations. Before COVID-19 outbreak, RwandAir was considered among the fastest growing airlines on the continent.
In February, Rwanda and Qatar arrived at a deal which would see Qatar Airways acquire a 49 percent stake in Rwandair as well as a 60 percent stake in the new airport in Bugesera district expected to cost about $1.3bn upon completion but with the COVID-19 outbreak, it is not yet clear if the plan has not been affected.
Both Rwanda and Qatar are yet to announce what next for the planned investment. Makolo could not divulge more details on the future plans but said the two countries continue to talk and more details will be communicated in the coming months.
By the time of suspending flights due to New Coronavirus, Rwandair was flying to 28 destinations worldwide. More routes including New York were in the offing but all plans have been put on hold.
President Kagame said that Rwanda would consider borrowing from lenders in coming months to invest in key areas of the economy which have been hit by COVID-19.