Mining community upbeat as Rwandair opens route to Lubumbashi

RwandAir launched its maiden commercial flight to Lubumbashi, the mining capital of DR Congo.

The maiden flight landed at Lubumbashi International Airport on Wednesday 29 September, afternoon with 63 passengers on board. 

The twice weekly service will be operated on Wednesdays and Mondays departing Kigali at 10 AM and returning at 5PM the same day.

Rwanda’s mining community welcome the development

Members of the Rwanda’s mining community welcomed the development, saying that it will reduce costs and time previously taken to travel.

Erneste Nsazineza, the managing Director RTEC mining company who was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight, said that the new route will help investors of both sides create ties that could benefit the mining industry.

John Mudahigwa, another player in the mining sector, told The New Times that he was happy about the new route. 

"There are very positive prospects that come with this new route. Especially to me, I work with many people in Lubumbashi but because of transport constraints, connecting was a bit difficult, which is something that this flight will address," he said.

Leonidas Simpezwe, vice chairman of Rwanda Mining Association, told The New Times that the new route is a response to many problems.

“Congo is one of the top mining countries globally, and the first with a lot of copper belts in the world. This shows how this route will boost Rwanda’s economy through cooperating on both sides.”

“Our operators through this route will explore big markets for our mining products, and vice versa,” he added.

Rwandair's inaugural flight was welcomed by a water salute upon arrival

To connect to Lubumbashi before, one had to transit in Ethiopia for more than four hours but now the journey is reduced to less than two hours, according to Sangwa Nyembo, a Congolese student at AUCA University in Kigali who spoke to The New Times.

“Last time I travelled home, it took me almost 12 hours to get to Lubumbashi. Today I used only two hours, and the cost was much less compared to what we used to pay before” said Nyembo. 

Lubumbashi, considered as the mining capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a base for many of the country's biggest mining companies.

RwandAir, Rwanda's national carrier, is one of the world’s fastest growing airlines and operates one of the youngest state-of-the-art fleets on the African continent.

With a reputation for delivering a premium service to all its customers, RwandAir operates 12 aircraft with an average age of just under six years.

The airline currently offers services to 26 destinations across 21 countries throughout Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.