The Rwandan government is in "final talks" with Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) over the sale of a 49% stake in RwandAir (WB, Kigali), Rwanda's Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana has said.

Eager to invest in untapped markets, the Gulf carrier has been courting the East African state since 2019 over its upcoming Bugesera International Airport project, set to open next year, as well as the state-owned airline.

"We are in the final stages of negotiations, and the carrier will be stronger due to the larger number of aircraft and greater resources," Ndagijimana told Jeune Afrique, without elaborating on when a final agreement would be signed.

During the interview, the minister conceded that while Rwandair was not a profitable airline, it was a significant economic driver enabling tourism and trade. The airline's 2019 accounts lodged with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) in February show it registered an overall loss of USD26.2 million in 2019 against revenue of USD221.4 million. Its loss in 2018 amounted to USD61.9 million. So far, its only profit was in 2014 with a modest USD2.82 million surplus.

At present, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows RwandAir's fleet entails one A330-200, one A330-300, two B737-700s, four B737-800s, two CRJ900ERs, and two Dash 8-400s. In September last year, it dropped plans to add two A330-900s and two B737-8s given the uncertainties regarding exact delivery dates.