RwandAir Wants To Join Oneworld Alliance

RwandAir Wants To Join Oneworld Alliance

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While the timeline remains to be seen, it looks like the oneworld alliance could pick up a second member airline in Africa.

RwandAir’s plans to join oneworld

The New Times reports that RwandAir intends to join the oneworld alliance. RwandAir has a close partnership with Qatar Airways, and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker is currently the chairman of the oneworld alliance. Al Baker has made it clear that his goal is to grow the alliance, and add several new members.

It was recently announced that Oman Air will join oneworld, and it looks like a second airline will now join under his leadership as well. Keep in mind that Qatar Airways and RwandAir already have a partnership.

Here’s how Al Baker described the plan while speaking at the Aviation Summit that took place this week in Kigali, Rwanda:

“We will do everything within our ability to bring them to the standard to be ready to join as a full member or an associate member. We saw this potential in the place that is right in the centre of Africa, and the relationship they have with the state of Qatar, I found that this is the right place. This is about confidence and relationship, economic interest for both countries with each and this is what we are going to do.”

Meanwhile here’s how RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo described this development:

“Joining oneworld will help us gradually improve our products and services and what we are offering to our passengers.”

If RwandAir joined the oneworld alliance as a full member, this would mean that frequent flyers could take advantage of reciprocal elite perks (like lounge access) and would also have the opportunity for reciprocal mileage earning and redemption opportunities.

RwandAir’s Airbus A330 business class

RwandAir joining oneworld would be awesome

It’s sad to me that the global alliances concept seems to be increasingly less popular. Both SkyTeam and Star Alliance haven’t added new members in quite some time, and it seems to only be oneworld that’s growing (the alliance has added Alaska Airlines and Royal Air Maroc in the past couple of years, and now plans to add Oman Air and hopefully RwandAir).

While I can appreciate that there’s only so much that a dozen or more airlines will have in common, it’s still a fantastic feature for frequent flyers. This is something that Qatar Airways’ Al Baker “gets,” as he has been doing what he can to add new members to the alliance, and I think that’s great.

RwandAir joining the oneworld alliance would be beneficial for consumers — it would provide more access to Africa, which is a continent that can use more alliance connectivity. Admittedly RwandAir is a pretty small airline — the airline has just a dozen planes, including two A330s, six 737s, two CRJs, and two Dash 8s.

Given how small RwandAir is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the airline joined oneworld as a oneworld connect member, rather than as a full member (this is similar to Fiji Airways). That would be of limited value, since oneworld connect primarily just offers perks on a bilateral basis with other carriers in oneworld, rather than for all alliance members.

From a traveler’s perspective, it’s much more straightforward when an airline joins as a full member, because then at least perks are consistent. I sure wish oneworld would eliminate the “connect” concept, but I suspect that’s the only way the economics make sense for some partners.

If you’re curious about the RwandAir passenger experience, read my RwandAir A330 business class review and my RwandAir CRJ-900 business class review.

RwandAir’s CRJ-900

Bottom line

RwandAir wants to join the oneworld alliance, which is an exciting development. My fear is that RwandAir will simply join as a oneworld connect member, which would offer limited value for most, since it comes with less reciprocity than if the carrier were a full member.

Kudos to oneworld for continuing to try to grow, as it seems to be the only alliance with that goal…

What do you make of RwandAir joining oneworld?

Conversations (9)
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  1. betterbub Gold

    Kigali sounds like a good time! Hope they work it out

  2. Joe Boo Guest

    Slow news day...seriously?
    100% irrelevant story...

    1. Neil mannix Guest

      Seriously? Such a sad comment to make

  3. Bobo Bolinski Guest

    "RwandAir joining oneworld would be awesome"

    "Awesome." Really? This big news qualifies for "awesome" in your book?

    You are either too-easily awed, you're lazy and your writing is just on autopilot, or you don't care about having any credibility. Perhaps more than one of these things could be true?

  4. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    I for one an very happy to hear about this development. OneWorld has such an opportunity with it's new Chairman to grow in many places. This will add destinations in East/West and Central Africa and improve RwandAir in many areas. Africa have TRIPLE it current population by 2050 and many of the world's largest cities will soon be there. Any opportunity to earn and burn I'm happy about.

  5. Lee Guest

    Looking at RwandAir's route map, questions abound. Key question #1 is: Compared to destinations served by existing oneworld member airlines, what destinations would RwandAir add? Key question #2 is: Among the destinations served by existing oneworld member airlines, would RwandAir provide easier routing? Ultimately, who is the target passenger? It seems too much of a niche market and the cards would suggest oneworld Connect membership.

  6. Sean M. Diamond

    Qatar Airways and Rwandair are a perfect match,

    Two airlines from semi-autocratic states that operate for the primary purpose of boosting the national image rather than for commercial reasons.

    However, Rwanda squanders around 5% of its annual national budget (equivalent to between 10-15% of foreign aid to Rwanda) on subsidies for their loss making airline while Qatar has infinitely more cash to spare.

    Rwandair remains an ego driven vanity project with a basket case for...

    Qatar Airways and Rwandair are a perfect match,

    Two airlines from semi-autocratic states that operate for the primary purpose of boosting the national image rather than for commercial reasons.

    However, Rwanda squanders around 5% of its annual national budget (equivalent to between 10-15% of foreign aid to Rwanda) on subsidies for their loss making airline while Qatar has infinitely more cash to spare.

    Rwandair remains an ego driven vanity project with a basket case for a business case.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      If RwandAir named you CEO, would you join?
      Spending (wasting) 5% of the national budget every year seems like a cool job. That's like $300 billion in the USA.

    2. John Guest

      Having lived in Rwanda for several years, "semi" is being generous here. Rwanda is an interesting case in terms of global development and organization, but Rwandair just seems like a total boondoggle, like most national airlines in this region. With all the progress made, it remains a very poor country that has no real need for any domestic flights and is reasonably well connected to tourist markets via Turkish, Ethiopian, Qatar, KLM, etc. This is...

      Having lived in Rwanda for several years, "semi" is being generous here. Rwanda is an interesting case in terms of global development and organization, but Rwandair just seems like a total boondoggle, like most national airlines in this region. With all the progress made, it remains a very poor country that has no real need for any domestic flights and is reasonably well connected to tourist markets via Turkish, Ethiopian, Qatar, KLM, etc. This is not an "awesome" development as that aid budget has a lot more higher value uses IMO.

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Sean M. Diamond

Qatar Airways and Rwandair are a perfect match, Two airlines from semi-autocratic states that operate for the primary purpose of boosting the national image rather than for commercial reasons. However, Rwanda squanders around 5% of its annual national budget (equivalent to between 10-15% of foreign aid to Rwanda) on subsidies for their loss making airline while Qatar has infinitely more cash to spare. Rwandair remains an ego driven vanity project with a basket case for a business case.

4
John Guest

Having lived in Rwanda for several years, "semi" is being generous here. Rwanda is an interesting case in terms of global development and organization, but Rwandair just seems like a total boondoggle, like most national airlines in this region. With all the progress made, it remains a very poor country that has no real need for any domestic flights and is reasonably well connected to tourist markets via Turkish, Ethiopian, Qatar, KLM, etc. This is not an "awesome" development as that aid budget has a lot more higher value uses IMO.

3
BenjaminGuttery Diamond

I for one an very happy to hear about this development. OneWorld has such an opportunity with it's new Chairman to grow in many places. This will add destinations in East/West and Central Africa and improve RwandAir in many areas. Africa have TRIPLE it current population by 2050 and many of the world's largest cities will soon be there. Any opportunity to earn and burn I'm happy about.

2
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