Qatar Airways to reveal investment in Southern African airline ‘within weeks’ 

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The CEO of Doha-based Qatar Airways, Badr Al Meer, has revealed that the carrier is within “two or three weeks” of finalizing a major equity investment in an airline “in the southern part of Africa”. Al Meer, who became CEO of the carrier in November 2023, said the southern part of Africa was a gap in Qatar Airways’ network coverage on the continent that the company was aiming to fill.  

Southern Africa is being seen as the “last piece of the equation” to gain greater scale on the continent that’s seen rising travel demand in recent years, Al-Meer said.  

Speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on May 15, 2024, Al Meer revealed that the carrier was keen to expand its operations on the African continent and that the investment would help it achieve this ambition. Al Meer noted that Africa has “so many opportunities” that Qatar could potentially tap into, noting the airline already flies to more than 30 destinations within the continent. He added that Qatar Airways wants to help expand the operations of its partner airlines in Africa to improve connectivity. 

Although not expressly mentioning any specific African airline by name, the comments were made during a panel discussion entitled ‘Connecting the Middle East & Africa, which also happened to involve the CEO of RwandAir, Yvonne Manzi Makolo (recently interviewed by AeroTime). 

Qatar Airways has been developing closer ties with Rwanda as a nation in recent years. In 209, the carrier took a 60% stake in a new $1.3 billion international airport being built in Rwanda, currently due to open in 2027/28. Then in 2021, the airline entered into a codeshare agreement with national carrier Rwandair, operating around 156 direct flights between Doha and Kigali between them between 2022 and 2023.  

Nabil Molinari /

Additionally, in May 2023, Qatar Airways Cargo launched a hub at Kigali International Airport (KGL) in partnership with RwandAir, for its cargo handling. The move was aimed at expanding the carrier’s African air cargo network and meeting the 3% to 5% of its annual economic growth forecast for the continent within a decade. 

Adding to the speculation as to the identity of the airline concerned, Al Meer appeared to throw more light on how Rwandair might help Qatar Airways achieve its goals in Africa.   

“We are at the final stage of an equity investment in an airline in the southern part of Africa. This airline will help us and complement the operation of Kigali,” he added. “When it comes to central Africa, we couldn’t find any better partner or any better location to create or to build a hub for us and our partners other than Kigali and this is where we started working with RwandAir.” 

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While Qatar Airways has grown from relatively humble beginnings to a huge international airline operating 265 aircraft, Rwandair is a far smaller entity. The carrier operates just 14 aircraft with a pair of Airbus A330-200s serving international routes. 

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AviaDev Insight is the first podcast dedicated to the African aviation industry, created by Jon Howell, Founder and Managing Director of AviaDev Africa, Africa’s premier event dedicated to developing air connectivity.
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