RwandAir wants to bring in its first dedicated freighter as it seeks to take advantage of rising demand for air cargo services.

The African carrier is “looking at acquiring a cargo freighter in the near future”, its chief executive Yvonne Makolo tells FlightGlobal during an interview earlier this month.

She confirms that, as with its passenger fleet, RwandAir is likely to work with future partner Qatar Airways – which is taking a 49% stake in the airline – on securing the aircraft. 

“Cargo has been important for RwandAir, especially once we got our widebodies, so were seeing a big increase in cargo revenue,” Makolo says of operations with the carrier’s two Airbus A330s – one -200 and one -300 – during the pre-Covid period.


Source: RwandAir

RwandAir’s widebody jets have opened up cargo opportunities

“When the pandemic happened it was good for us to be able to continue,” she states, citing the cargo services that the carrier has operated to Brussels, Guangzhou and London before those routes open up to passenger traffic again.

The airline managed to ”repurpose our widebodies in order to fill the cabins with cargo”, Makolo notes.

Recent history suggests Qatar Airways is open to leasing its aircraft to carriers in which it has an equity stake. Now-defunct Air Italy, for example, leased A330s and 737 Max jets from Qatar Airways before its collapse.

Qatar Airways has a number of dedicated freighters in its fleet, Cirium fleets data shows, including 21 Boeing 777-200LRFs, two 747-8Fs, and four Airbus A330-200Fs. It also has five of the 777-200 freighters on order.

IATA said in early September that demand for air cargo has rebounded sharply, with strong growth expected for the remainder of 2020.

full interview with RwandAir chief executive Yvonne Makolo is published on FlightGlobal Premium and in Airline Business magazine