Qatar Airways Plans To Invest In Southern African Airline

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Summary

  • Qatar Airways will make an equity investment in a Southern African airline to enhance its operations in Africa.
  • The airline aims to bridge the gap in connectivity between the Middle East and Southern Africa.
  • Southern Africa is the “final piece of the puzzle” to complete Qatar Airways’ model for the continent.



Qatar Airways is looking to boost its presence in Africa by investing in an airline based in the southern part of the continent. Already with a strong presence in other regions, the airline’s CEO describes Southern Africa as the “final piece of the puzzle.”


Equity investment in Southern Africa

Qatar Airways already partnered with RwandAir to connect passengers through the airline’s hub at Kigali International Airport (KGL). The Doha-based carrier seeks to invest in a Southern African airline to complement operations in Kigali. The deal is reportedly in the final stage. Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum on May 15, Qatar Airways CEO Badr Al Meer said,

“We are at the final stage of an equity investment in an airline in the southern part of Africa. This airline will complement the operations of Kigali and the operations of RwandAir as the airline that connects the West, East, and North of Africa to the airline we are finalizing the investment in the southern part of Africa.”


Photo: IanC66 | Shutterstock

Without disclosing too many details about which airline Qatar Airways will partner with, Badr Al Meer said it could be one of two or three Southern African carriers. The deal will be announced in the next two to three weeks. The Doha-based airline will also work to enhance the fleets of its African partners to increase connectivity.


Connecting the Middle East and Africa

Qatar Airways has an extensive network in Africa, serving over 30 destinations, including South Africa’s three major gateways. According to Badr Al Meer, the airline’s model involves covering all major parts of the continent. However, it needs to look at specific areas within Africa. Its network in the Northern, Western, and Western regions is growing “organically,” with a strong presence in Nigeria and a long-standing partnership with North Africa’s Royal Air Maroc.

The missing element to support its network is connectivity in Central and Southern Africa. Regarding Central Africa, the CEO said that Kigali was the best location to develop a hub for the airline and its partners. Last year, Qatar Airways Cargo launched a cargo hub at Kigali International Airport in partnership with RwandAir. This was the airline’s first cargo hub outside Qatar.


Photo: Thiago B Trevisan | Shutterstock

The Middle Eastern carrier has been in talks to acquire a 49% stake in RwandAir for nearly five years. In 2019, it also invested in Rwanda’s new multi-billion dollar airport near Kigali. Also speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum, RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo said that the airport will be a key regional hub, given Rwanda’s geographical location at the center of Africa. She expects the airport to become operational by 2027 or 2028.

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RwandAir has helped the carrier connect people from other parts of Africa to the rest of the world. Nonetheless, Southern Africa is the last piece of the puzzle in Qatar Airways’ model. The airline currently offers over 32 weekly flights from Doha to Southern Africa, serving seven destinations, including Johannesburg, Maputo, Harare, and Luanda.


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