RwandAir, which is 99% owned by the Government of Rwanda, plans to start US flights, by applying to the US Department of Transportation for the right to fly passengers and cargo between Kigali and JFK airport (New York) from August 2018 using Airbus A330.
The government has designated RwandAir as its international services carrier and the application for US flights also has letters of support from the Rwanda Embassy in Washington, the Rwanda Minister of Finance who writes that the government has supported the airline since its inception in 2002 and support continues to be budgeted for each year.
The application includes three years of audited financial statements. For 2016, the airline’s revenue was $99 million (and this has gone up from $64 million in 2013). Expenses in 2016 included direct expenses of $115 million, staff of $11 million, and finance costs of $15 million – for a loss before tax of $54 million that was then offset by a government grant of $53 million. Other government grants are cited including $56 million in 2015 and a $28 million in 2014. The application notes that the airline has no financial projections for the first twelve months of operation on the proposed US flights route and requests exemption from providing that (as have been granted to other carriers)
— Rwandan Aviation (@RwandAnFlyer) August 25, 2017
The RwandAir balance sheet at the time (June 2016) was $238 million – but this was before the arrival of new aircraft in an expansion program that included two Airbus A330, and 4 Boeing 737 next generation (NG). The fleet is now 2 A330, 2 737-800, 2 CRJ-900 and a Bombardier Q400, and RwandAir also leases 3 other Boeing 737 and another Q400. By the end of 2017, RwandAir plans to have 18 aircraft which will include four more Airbus A330’s.
RwandAir flies to 19 destinations but plans to add China, Germany, and the US flights. Plans to fly to Britain and India are included in the application, and these flights have already started in 2017. RwandAir has codeshare partnerships with Turkish, SN Brussels, Ethiopian, South African, Proflight (Zambia) and Precision (Tanzania) airlines and the application also lists technical and maintenance support partners for their aircraft including Lufthansa for the Airbus A330 and Ethiopian for the B737 NG.
RwandAir has only had one fatal incident; with a wet-leased Jetlink Kenya plane that hit a terminal building while taxiing out of Kigali in 2009 – it resulted in one fatality. After this, they canceled the wet-lease and invested in their own fleet