Ethiopian Airlines is competing with Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi to partner with the national flag carrier of Rwanda, RwandAir.
The management of RwandAir is looking for a strategic partner. The board of directors of RwandAir and the Rwandese Transport Ministry has offered to sell a 49 percent stake on RwandAir.
CEO of RwandAir, John Mirange, told The Reporter that Ethiopian Airlines, and Etihad Airways are among the international companies that had submitted expression of interest to the Rwandese government to buy stake on RwandAir. The prospective partner will own 49 percent stake on the East African airline and will jointly manage the airline and caters technical services.
“Ethiopian Airlines is definitely one of the few airlines that we are talking to. We are also talking to Etihad Airways. We are talking to quite a few airlines. We are looking for the right airline that would fit in,” Mirange said. He said that the management board of RwandAir and the Ministry of Transport are evaluating the proposals submitted by the international airlines. “We are holding discussions and exchanging data with the international airlines that have shown interest in partnering with us” Mirange said.
According to Mirange, the management of RwandAir needs the prospective partner to understand its efforts in continuing building a hub in Rwanda. “Hopefully, before the end of this year shall will know which we want to take. It is a process. It takes time to arrive at a decision. You need to build confidence along the way. That does not happen easily,” he said.
Reliable sources told The Reporter that Ethiopian Airlines and Etihad Airways are the finalists. Sources said the Rwandese authorities are in the final stage of the evaluation process, adding that the winner will be either Ethiopian or Etihad.
“Ethiopian Airlines is our very good partner. They maintain our B737 and Q400 fleet. They support us training crew and technicians. They also support us in management areas. When we ask them to cooperate in these areas they are very happy to assist us. If you talk about real South-South cooperation among airlines Ethiopian is a true and living example of what a big airline can do to a young airline,” Mirange said.
Etihad Airways is the flag carrier and the second-largest airline of the United Arab Emirates, after Emirates Airline.