The route between Cape and Harare is en route to Kigali, where RwandAir connects with flights on their network that transport people and cargo to Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe and Mumbai.
The Cape Town to Harare flight en route Kigali is their first flight from Cape Town and flies out four times a week, with plans to fly out daily next year.
The route started out with a CRJ900 regional jet which accommodates about 75 people, and after about two months of operating the route, capacity had to be increased. The 737-800 accommodates twice as many people in two cabins; business and economy class showing the increasing need for more flights between Kigali and Cape Town via Harare.
With Cape Town being a big tourist and business destination, RwandAir notes that flying in and out of Cape Town was a natural progression for the airline. As part of their market research, RwandAir discovered a lot of traffic between Cape Town and Kigali, which is why the airline made the business decision to penetrate that market, a decision that Thembela Dladla, country manager for RwandAir, says has paid off.
Operating from over 30 different destinations across the continent, RwandAir prides itself in having what Dladla calls the “mid-hemisphere advantage”. Being located right in the middle of the continent means the airline has a geographical advantage. It is able to connect flights to different destinations across Africa with little effort, at least compared to other airlines.
Majority of connecting flights don’t take more than two hours to connect from the main hub in Kigali to the rest of the RwandAir network. In the same way that airlines such as Emirates have the geographical advantage of being located almost in the centre of the globe, which makes it much easier to connect to all parts of the world, RwandAir enjoys the same benefit in Africa.
Dladla notes that the move to Cape Town was a surprisingly easy one given the regulation constraints on the continent. The Zimbabwean and South African governments, through WesGro, the City of Cape Town and South African Tourism, welcomed RwandAir to supply the demand for travellers between Cape Town, Kigali and Harare, and have thus made the process seamless for RwandAir.
Collaboration with Cape Town Air Access (made up of the Western Cape Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company South Africa, Cape Town Tourism, South African Tourism, Wesgro and private sector partners) with the mandate to promote, develop and maintain international air routes in and out of Cape Town International Airport made it possible for RwandAir to establish the route.
Dladla also credits the process to the “fifth freedom” between Zimbabwe and South Africa, which simply means RwandAir is permitted to pick up and drop off passengers between the two countries, by both the South African and the Zimbabwean governments.
The increased movement between Cape Town and Harare is credited to a lot of business and tourism being generated as Zimbabwe emerges from an era of financial turmoil. Business travellers moving between the two cities are often interested in combining their business trips with tourism activities. Those travelling to Cape Town for tourism-related reasons often want to add tourism activities in Zimbabwe, such as visiting Victoria Falls, to their itinerary. This option is now easier, given the availability of direct flights, without having to fly via Johannesburg. There are also those who live in between the two cities, and those who travel to visit family and friends who live between Cape Town and Harare.
Interestingly, there is increasing and bigger demand for flights between Harare and Cape Town than expected, than there is between Harare and Joburg, but there is a demand between Joburg and Lusaka that’s high on both sides, largely for business-related travel.
There is a 40 minutes stop-over in Harare for passengers heading to Kigali with RwandAir, where they can connect to the rest of the RwandAir network. The Kigali hub hosts flights that comprise the RwandAir Network, which expands all the way to Nairobi, Entebbe, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mumbai, London, Brussels, Dubai, and other destinations.
RwandAir will soon fly out daily out of Cape Town as soon as new aircrafts are delivered to meet the growing demand to travel between Cape Town, Harare and Kigali. For those who can’t seem to get off their phones for social media purposes or business related matters, the airline offers on board WiFi, which means that you are allowed to make use of your phone while onboard.
RwandAir has also established a secondary hub in Cotonou, Benin, in west Africa, providing access to destinations such as Dakar, Douala, Libreville and Abidjan. Launched in 2017 already, through a partnership with the government of Benin, RwandAir has been able to establish this hub, allowing travellers the opportunity to easily connect with RwandAir’s growing network of flights and destinations.
The airline has plans to widen its reach across the continent, and the staff is particularly excited by the possibilities that lie ahead on the Cape Town-Harare-Kigali route. Many opportunities are emerging as Zimbabwe enters a new era, which has ignited much enthusiasm in and outside the country.