RwandAir, the flag carrier of Rwanda, has announced its intention to join the oneworld alliance.
RwandAir Will Join Oneworld Alliance With Aid Of Qatar Airways
Even with the recent addition of Royal Air Maroc, the oneworld route network has a big hole in Africa, particularly in southern Africa. Beyond services from Qatar Airways and limited services from British Airways, Iberia, and Qantas, the alliance does not offer connectivity to key cities in Africa, undermining its claim to be a leading global alliance.
That could change if a bid from RwandAir to join the alliance is successful. RwandAir is based in Kigali (KGL) and operates to 28 countries, including more than 20 in Africa.
Qatar Airways appears to be playing a key role in paving the way for RwandAir to join oneworld. Speaking at an aviation summit in Kigali this week, Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, promised:
“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.”
Al Baker is currently the Chair of oneworld and has greatly increased his airline’s ties to the alliance, adding several new codeshare relationships with other members, including American Airlines. Al Baker added:
“We saw this potential in the place that is right in the center 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.”
While that sounds like a more bilateral relationship, Qatar Airways’ investments in other oneworld members will make RwandAir’s accession more likely. Al Baker also indicated that Qatar Airways will offer training to current and future RwandAir pilots, thus creating “a center of excellence for aviation in Africa” in Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Rwandair CEO, Yvonne Makolo focused on the value proposition alliance membership would add to its customers:
“Joining Oneworld will help us gradually improve our products and services and what we are offering to our passengers.”
At press time, no formal announcement from oneworld has been made.
RwandAir intends to join oneworld and has the backing of Qatar Airways. While the NCI (new carrier integration) process is likely many months away, the addition of RwandAir would fill an important hole in the oneworld route map.
Qatar Airways and Rwandair are a perfect match,
Two airlines from semi-autocratic states that operate for the primary purpose of boosting the national image rather than for commercial reasons.
However, Rwanda squanders around 5% of its annual national budget (equivalent to between 10-15% of foreign aid to Rwanda) on subsidies for their loss making airline while Qatar has infinitely more cash to spare.
Rwandair remains an ego driven vanity project with a basket case for a business case.
Were I not apprehensive about using an outmoded term, I would be tempted to call this the thirdworld alliance.
It’s interesting to observe that quite a few people on flyertalk/the blogosphere have been mocking Skyteam as the ‘whatever’s left’ alliance despite its good global coverage, while at the same time oneworld has been busy mopping up the likes of Srilankan, S7, and now what looks like a completely irrelevant African airline. The only explanation I can come up with is that the ‘scene’ mostly contains Americans and other native/advanced speakers of English who feel more comfortable with airlines based in countries with cultural/linguistic similarities; BA, AA, QF, CX, MH, LK and even not-quite-a-member EI are all based in countries where English is an official language, the equivalent Skyteam list consists of just DL and KQ.
I think that’s a stretch. It just happens to be that the two largest carriers in One World are AA And BA. As well, given that the largest originating traffic outside Asia to Australia would of course be the U.S. and U.K., One World would thus make the most sense for Qantas. I highly doubt it is an attempt at primarily securing airlines from English speaking countries more than it is just the natural extension of those two being so dominant. Let’s not forget that AC SQ, and NZ are in Star.
I am not saying that oneworld itself set out to find members in the English-speaking world, but I can’t see any other reason for certain groups of people to perceive it as better than Skyteam, which undoubtedly has better coverage virtually everywhere outside of North America (BA don’t even fly to the UK’s second city and the entire alliance is a complete non-starter for most intra-Europe travel) and seems to have more-or-less eschewed adding members from the bottom of the quality/reliability pile, although admittedly it has been beset by issues with existing members (exit of CZ, virtual disappearance of Czech Airlines, zombification of Alitalia, suspension of Aeroflot, and bizarre direction in which TAROM has been heading since the pandemic).
This would be a great add for OW if they can bring Rwanda Air up to speed & sort out codeshares & awards. As it stands, *A is head & shoulders above OW & Skyteam in Africa with ET. Sure RAM & Kenya are there but nowhere near the scale, ease of partner bookings & codeshares of ET.
KQ is a decent airline, and East Africa is also reasonably well-covered by SV, but *A is obviously very far ahead; in addition to the very large ET network, they have MS and SA, plus a huge number of intercontinental flights with Turkish and SN. Oneworld will remain a distant third in the region (as it is in Europe and S. America) even if it adds Rwandair.
thirdworld airline alliance; mea, rwandair
next to join mahan and s7
Glad to see OneWorld growing at a quick pace! Maybe some of the unhappy airlines in other alliances will come over to OW!