RwandAir (WB, Kigali) plans to launch scheduled services from Kigali via Accra, Ghana to New York JFK in December 2021 using its own A330-200 or A330-300.

According to the airline’s application to the US Department of Transportation for an amendment to its current US Foreign Air Carrier Permit, RwandAir has already secured authorisation from Ghana to use Accra as the last point-of-departure into the US.

"RwandAir has already secured authorization from the Government of the Republic of Ghana to use Kotoka International Airport as the Last Point of Departure (LPD) into the United States of America," it said. "At Accra, the airline will exercise fifth (5th) freedom traffic rights as provided for in the bilateral air service agreements of both US and Ghana with Rwanda."

RwandAir requests that its existing US foreign air carrier permit be amended to allow it to use its own aircraft and crew, in addition to code-shares and wet-leases, for scheduled and charter flights for passengers, property (including cargo) and mail between any point/s in Rwanda and any point/s in the US; and between any point/s in the US and any point/s in Rwanda. According to the application, RwandAir may want to further expand the proposed services using other types of aircraft in the future.

It also requests that this permission be granted when Rwanda's Civil Aviation Authority successfully achieves an International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating. Only carriers from Category 1 countries are permitted to operate into the US and/or codeshare with US airlines.

The airline's current IATA Operations Safety Audit (IOSA) certification is valid until June 13, 2022, and its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) is valid until October 31, 2022, with a routine extension granted every two years. RwandAir in 2016 was already designated by the Rwandan government to provide air services on the Kigali-JFK route.

RwandAir operates a young fleet of 11 aircraft, including one owned A330-200, one owned A330-300, two B737-700s leased from AerCap and Dara Aviation respectively; four B737-800s of which two are leased from Air Lease Corporation; two own CRJ900ERs, and one DHC-8-Q400 leased from Montrose Global, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module.

RwandAir Chief Executive Officer Yvonne Manzi Makolo was not immediately available for comment.

The airline flies to 24 destinations predominantly throughout Africa including Entebbe/Kampala, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta, Lagos, Abidjan, and Libreville; as well as intercontinentally to Dubai Int'l; London Heathrow, Brussels National; Mumbai Int'l; and Guangzhou. It was planning to expand its network "into various directions" including three routes in Africa in 2021, it said. This past week, it was forced to suspend flights to Zimbabwe and South Africa as part of efforts to curb a resurgence in COVID-19.

The airline has codesharing and interline agreements with, amongst others, Turkish Airlines, SN Brussels Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways (in business rescue), Emirates, Qatar Airways, Proflight Zambia, and Precision Air, but does not intend to make use of any of these for its application to serve the US.

RwandAir said it had not prepared financial projections for the first 12 months of the proposed US operation as it would need to establish a market presence before it would be able to present an accurate assessment of costs and revenues for the US market. However, in supporting documents, Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning confirmed the government had been supporting the airline since its inception in 2002 from annual budget allocations and would continue to do so in the future until the airline broke even.

According to accompanying financial statements, RwandAir on June 30, 2019, had total assets worth USD341.2 million, with total liabilities of USD198.5 million, including a bank overdraft of USD27.1 million, loans and borrowings totalling USD35.9 million, a government loan of USD11.6 million, a deferred income of USD23 million, trade and other payables of USD93.8 million, and related party payables of USD6.9 million.