Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) has signed an agreement with the government of Rwanda to take a 60% stake in the Central African state's Bugesera International Airport, currently under construction.

"The partnership features three agreements to build, own, and operate the state-of-the-art facility," the Rwanda Development Bureau said in a statement. "The agreements signed today mark a key milestone in the development of Rwanda’s vibrant aviation sector, in the context of the excellent bilateral relationship between Qatar and Rwanda."

The Qataris' stake in the project is valued at around USD780 million.

Bugesera is a greenfield facility currently under construction in Bugesera district, located around 25 kilometres southeast of the capital Kigali.

The contract to build and operate the new international gateway to Rwanda, designed to complement the existing Kigali International Airport, was initially signed in 2016 with Portuguese construction company Mota Engil. Works started in 2017 and were initially scheduled for completion in 2019. Under the original agreement, Mota Engil was expected to inject USD400 million of its own funds but would be then allowed to retain profits from the airport's operation.

It is unclear if Mota Engil will remain a part of the consortium after Qatar Airways' entry. The Portuguese firm did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment.

The RDB said Bugesera will be redesigned to accommodate up 7 million passengers per year in the first phase. The previous design, included in the agreement with Mota Engil, foresaw a capacity of 1.7 million passengers per annum. Construction works were halted earlier this year to facilitate the redesign. A second phase, capable of handling 14 million passengers per year, is expected to start by 2032.

Kigali International Airport, the only airport with scheduled international services in Rwanda, sees 26,177 weekly departure seats on sale, with 57.1% of all onboard RwandAir (WB, Kigali) aircraft, the ch-aviation capacities module shows.

The only other active airport in Rwanda is Kamembe, which sees daily services to Kigali operated by RwandAir.

Qatar Airways Group owns Doha Hamad Int'l airport and is in talks about acquiring a 25% stake in Moscow Vnukovo.