There is a report that Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir is planning to join the Oneworld alliance and the chairman of Oneworld and CEO of Qatar Airways, Mr. Akbar Al Baker is considering the airline to be either a full member or an associate member.
RwandAir and Qatar Airways
Currently, RwandAir does not belong to any alliance but it has a strong partnership with Qatar Airways. The two airlines signed a comprehensive codeshare agreement last October offering reciprocal benefits to travelers flying either airline.
At this week’s Aviation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, Qatar Airways CEO, Mr. Al Baker stated that:
“We will do everything within our ability to bring them to the standard to be ready to join as a full member or an associate member. We saw this potential in the place that is right in the centre of Africa, and the relationship they have with the state of Qatar, I found that this is the right place. This is about confidence and relationship, economic interest for both countries with each and this is what we are going to do.”
He also added that the two airlines, through their partnership are to build a training institution to train cabin crew, ground staff, equipment operators, and engineers and also train pilots in Rwanda.
In the meantime, RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo said that the airline is already working with Qatar airways and works are underway to upgrade the airline to the standards of Qatar Airways which is a five-star airline.
Furthermore, she also said:
“Joining Oneworld will help us gradually improve our products and services and what we are offering to our passengers.”
RwandAir has a fleet consisting of only 12 small to widebody aircraft. The airline has two Airbus A330s for long-haul destinations and the remaining 10 are narrow bodies and propellers.
RwandAir offers one of the best business class seats on the African continent as the carrier’s A330 features Vantage XL seats, Premium and economy class seats which are relatively new.
Oneworld Member or Oneworld Connect Member
Given that the size of RwandAir is small and the resources are still not to the level of global airline standards, it is still unknown whether the airline will be a full Oneworld member or a Connect member like Fiji Airways.
To explain more about Oneworld Connect, it provides select alliance benefits to frequent flyers from any Oneworld member airline traveling on their flights, with a more extensive range of benefits offered with a subset of Oneworld member airlines, known as their “Oneworld sponsors”.
So Oneworld Connect partner airlines will have limited benefits to frequent flyer members. And there are more complicated rules with “Connect” partners.
RwandAir has publicly shown interest in joining the Oneworld alliance during Aviation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Oneworld chairman and CEO of Qatar Airways also has a positive mind about the airline becoming part of the alliance.
As of now, it is still unclear whether the airline will be a full Oneworld member or just be part of Oneworld’s Connect Partner which offers only partial benefits to frequent flyers. Let us wait and see how both the airline and Oneworld make a decision.