Rwanda Loses Billions as Qatar Closes Operations

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By Denyse Tuyishime

Local businesses that have been dealing directly with Qatar Airways are now counting major losses after the airline announced the closure of its operations in Rwanda.

The Middle-East based carrier announced yesterday suspension of its direct flight to Kigali until September 1.For the past few days, Qatar airways passengers have been connecting to Doha through Entebbe on Rwandair or through Nairobi on Kenya Airways.

“Qatar Airways bookings and reservations are closed from July 3 until September 1, due to operational reasons,” the airline said in a brief statement to customers.

Lemigo hotel a Kigali based three star hotel has been one of the close business associates with Qatar since 2012, when the airline opened operations in Rwanda.

Qatar staff have been using Lemigo hotel on a daily basis but since the announcement the hotel has spent two months.

Figures indicate that the hotel has been earning $ 24,000 per month from accommodating eight Qatar staff per day.

This means that the hotel earned at least $ 1,392,000 in the last five years, from its services, minus food and beverages consumed by the airline staff.

“We are very saddened by the fact that the airline has postponed operations in Rwanda. We have been told to wait until the end of this month- to know if Qatar staff are coming back” said Gracien Kalima, the front office manager at Lemigo Hotel.

The carrier suspended its Kigali flights to last month shortly after the Qatar diplomatic crisis that saw the country’s Arab neighbours impose an air and trade blockade that affected operations.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt have blocked Qatar Airways from their airspace forcing the airline to reroute its flights through Iran and Turkey.

The five-star airline has planned to invest nearly US$50billion (equivalent to 270 new airplanes) injected in nine years.

The carrier launched the Kigali service in 2012 after securing fifth freedom rights between Entebbe and Kigali. These were however subsequently lost after Rwanda stopped reciprocating them.

 Sources says that Kigali has been contributing 40 and 60 passengers to the service during low and peak seasons respectively.

In the meantime, Qatar airways has maintained its connections to the rest of the world through Iran and Turkey after countries like Saudi Arabia , United Arab Emirates  and Egypt had blocked its planes from using their airspace.





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