Etihad faces Ethiopian in talks for stake in Rwandair
Etihad is going head to head with Ethiopian Airlines in talks with central African airline Rwandair for a 49% stake in the Kigali-based carrier.
Swiss-based CH-Aviation quoted Rwandair CEO John Mirenge as saying that his airline has been in talks with Ethiopian Airlines about the stake in the national carrier – but now Etihad has joined in the discussions.
"Currently, we are in talks with Ethiopian Airlines, but we are also talking to Etihad Airways," he said in a statement to Panapress. "This step will help us to select the right airline that would fit in."
In addition to gaining equity in the airline, the successful suitor would also gain a presence on the airline's board, Mirenge said.
According to CH Aviation database, As Rwandair Express the Rwandan national carrier was slated for privatization in 2007 with Italy's Meridiana set to become its strategic partner. The deal however, failed to materialize following disagreements over strategy.
Since then, the carrier has grown from a virtual carrier leasing its entire fleet, to operating its own which now consists of two B737-700s, two B737-800s, two CRJ-900s, two Dash 8-400s, and soon, two A330s. While it currently focusses on intra-African flights with Dubai Int'l its sole intercontinental service, Rwandair has set its sights on expanding into Europe and Asia.
African Aerospace (sister publication to Arabian Aerospace) reported in July that the airline plans to leverage Rwanda's ideal location in the heart of Africa to develop a regional hub to rival that of Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta and Addis Ababa. The Rwandan government, which owns the airline, has pledged to build a new USD700 million international airport - Bugesera - to help facilitate this goal as part of its Vision 2020 development plan.
Etihad has already developed a strategic presence in Africa with its investment in Air Seychelles.