Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) is considering increasing its involvement in Rwandan aviation by buying a 49% stake in flag carrier RwandAir (WB, Kigali), Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told reporters during a CAPA conference in Doha.

"We’re going to take a stake in their national carrier because we see that Africa is another region that has huge growth potential," Al Baker was quoted by Reuters. He added, however, that his team are "very tough negotiators … we will take our time to negotiate."

In December last year, Qatar Airways Group agreed to take around a 60% stake in Bugesera International Airport, Rwanda's planned new international aerodrome currently under construction near Kigali, which will replace the congested Kigali Kanombe Airport. Qatar's involvement in the project has been reported to be USD780 million.

RwandAir is currently wholly-state-owned. With twelve aircraft in its fleet (one A330-200, one A330-300, two B737-700s, four B737-800s, two CRJ900ERs, and two Dash 8-400s) it remains a relatively small carrier, although it has been growing rapidly in recent years. It is awaiting delivery of two A330-900s and two B737-8s (once type recertification has been completed), the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

Al Baker added that Qatar Airways Group was also interested in boosting its stake in LATAM Airlines Group to match Delta Air Lines' 20% shareholding. The Middle Eastern group currently owns a 10% stake in the Latin American carrier group.

InterGlobe Aviation, the parent of IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi Int'l), remains an attractive investment goal for Qatar Airways Group but Al Baker said that he was waiting for the right opportunity and for the founders of InterGlobe Aviation, IndiGo's parent firm, to resolve their differences.

Qatar Airways Group, which controls Doha Hamad Int'l airport, also has stakes in Air Italy (49%), IAG International Airlines Group (20.01%), Cathay Pacific (9.61%), and China Southern Airlines (5%). It is also in talks with the Moscow Vnukovo airport operator about acquiring a 25% stake.