Why Qatar plan to buy stake in RwandAir is wakeup call for KQ

A RwandAir Airbus 330-300 plane. FILE PHOTO | NMG Qatar’s move to open negotiations with RwandAir to acquire a 49 percent stake in the carrier will potentially have serious ramification on regional airlines, particularly the Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ.

Should negotiations materialise, it will come as a blow to not only KQ that is struggling financially, but also other carriers such as Uganda and Tanzania airlines, which are still at their infancy stage.

The new development, which comes just weeks after Qatar announced that it had acquired majority stake at the new Rwanda Airport, is likely to bring a number of far-reaching changes in the regional’s aviation industry.

KQ chairman Michael Joseph says it is now time to be concerned as a country following this new plan that is likely to impact directly on the national carrier if the government will not take the right steps on the long overdue reforms.

“It is time that we got concerned with what is happening. This is a wakeup call for us especially if we do not move with speed in doing what is right,” said the chairman.

Mr Joseph noted that when KQ was pushing to manage the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), they wanted to make it an East African commercial hub and attract the traffic from other regions. However, the move was opposed leading to the collapse of the plan.

The chairman said with Qatar Airways acquiring a majority stake at the Rwanda’s new airport and a 49 percent stake in the airline, then Kigali has all the ingredients to become a major hub in the region.

Qatar will make Rwanda its African operation centre where passengers from other African countries can connect flights to Europe or even the US using either Qatar Airways or RwandAir without necessarily having to connect from their headquarters in Doha.

“It will be a very efficient hub in a very stable country in the heart of Africa and are going to take a stake in their national carrier because we see that Africa is another region that has huge growth potential,” Akbar Al Baker, Qatar chief executive officer, said last week.

The carrier, which has one of the youngest fleets in the world, is likely to make Rwanda its second base outside of Doha, a move that will likely see the airline repatriate some of its aircraft to Kigali for connection to other continents.

The move to look for a second base could have […]

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