Rwandair swaps Gatwick for Heathrow as it targets better connectivity

RwandAir uses the Airbus A330-200 for its long-haul services. /Airbus
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RwandAir has announced that it is to resume flights to London and Brussels from its hub in Kigali, Rwanda on October 3 as the African airline works towards rebuilding its passenger network, Simple Flying reports.

One notable switch from prior service is that the airline will operate service to London Heathrow rather than London Gatwick.

According to the aviation insiders, the airline is set to twin-aisle A330 on both routes . The airline has only two A330s, one is the shorter -200, and the other a stretched -300. Our guess is that the -300 will operate the Heathrow service while the -200 will go to Brussels.

Flights to these European cities will initially resume on a twice-weekly basis, before increasing to three-times-weekly from October 25th.

“Now travel bans and restrictions are being relaxed, we can once again resume flying to and from London and Brussels, and look forward to welcoming customers flying from Europe back to RwandAir.” -Yvonne Manzi Makolo, CEO of RwandAir

Makolo adds that the airline has been operating cargo and repatriation flights from London Heathrow during the pandemic. Now the carrier will operate scheduled passenger flights for the first time into and out of one of Europe’s largest and busiest airports.

He told Simple Flying that, “The move to London Heathrow allows RwandAir to take advantage of the wider network of connecting passengers from around the world, as well as giving passengers in the UK better access to RwandAir flights from London.”

According to the airline the move will significantly benefit customers flying into Heathrow from other UK cities who then wish to fly on seamlessly to Rwanda and other parts of Africa.

“It has never been easier to reach Kigali or other major African cities such as Nairobi, Entebbe, Lusaka, and Harare from London,” says the statement.

Heathrow is a much larger airport and connects to many more cities around the world. This is particularly important for connecting travelers as a transfer requiring them to switch from Heathrow to Gatwick (or vice versa) may require a visa – and undoubtedly the hassle of passing through customs and immigration.

Currently Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways are two that offer connectivity to African cities.

Like most airlines, Rwandair has been severely restricted in its ability to operate during the worst of the pandemic.

Between March 20th and July 31st, the carrier suspended all flights from Rwanda, except for freight-only flights to China, to carry critical medical supplies as well as other essential cargo.

However, since August 1st, the airline has gradually resumed commercial flights across its global network, including select African routes, as well as some long-haul destinations such as Dubai.

As it ramps up its passenger operations, the airline says that it will continue to keep its schedules under constant review so it can respond quickly and responsibly to customer demand – as well as the changing epidemiological situation for travel.

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