Q & A In­ter­views

Business Traveller (Africa) - - CONTENTS - Them­bela Dladla SA Coun­try Man­ager: RwandAir

• Them­bela Dladla – RwandAir

• Siyanda Dlamini – Re­gency Ho­tel Group

RwandAir, the na­tional car­rier for Rwanda, has big plans for a piece of the global air travel mar­ket. With one of the youngest fleets in Africa, the air­line con­nects 26 cities in West­ern, Cen­tral, Eastern and South­ern Africa, the Mid­dle East, Asia and Europe. When the air­line en­tered Europe last year with flights to Gatwick and Brus­sels, it in­creased its vis­i­bil­ity on the world stage. Them­bela Dladla, RwandAir’s Coun­try Man­ager for South Africa, took some time to an­swer a few questions.

Q: What are your views on the state of the African air­line in­dus­try?

A: The state of the African air­line in­dus­try re­mains dy­namic and very com­plex. In some in­stances, you do see pos­i­tive growth and fo­cus with con­tin­ued ex­pan­sions that ben­e­fits the move­ment of peo­ple and goods across the con­ti­nent. In other in­stances, we see a de­cline and fail­ure, es­pe­cially when it comes to re­gional air­lines across the con­ti­nent. We have seen an in­crease in cre­at­ing re­gional hubs fo­cus­ing on con­nect­ing the four corners of the con­ti­nent. Re­gional air­lines such as RwandAir are continuing to fo­cus on just the ba­sics, in­clud­ing customer sat­is­fac­tion. There's a great need for air­lines on the con­ti­nent to fo­cus on mak­ing customer sat­is­fac­tion a pri­or­ity, as this will not only ben­e­fit the pas­sen­ger but also the over­all of­fer­ing across the in­dus­try.

Q: What are your thoughts on the con­cept of an ‘open skies’ policy in Africa in the fu­ture?

A: In or­der to en­sure that the con­ti­nent's full eco­nomic po­ten­tial is re­alised, ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient move­ment of peo­ple across the con­ti­nent is very im­por­tant and air trans­port is best suited to fa­cil­i­tate the move­ment of both pas­sen­gers and cer­tain goods. Re­stricted air space hin­ders such progress and there­fore it is very im­por­tant that Africa en­sures that any ‘open skies' policy is sup­ported, as it will be ben­e­fi­cial in en­sur­ing the ease of move­ment of peo­ple and goods across this vast con­ti­nent.

Q: What new routes have you added to your net­work in the last 12 months?

A: Johannesburg-Lusaka,

Cape Town-Harare/Ki­gali, Johannesburg-Abuja via Ki­gali, and Johannesburg-Cotonou via Ki­gali. Over the next 12 months, RwandAir is plan­ning on adding a few more des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing New York in 2019, Guangzhou, Tel Aviv, Ba­mako and Con­akry.

Q: What was the busi­ness case be­hind the new routes to Abuja and Cape Town?

A: Cape Town is a well sort out des­ti­na­tion for most Africans and it was only nat­u­ral for RwandAir to add this beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tion to our net­work and also to re­spond to mar­ket de­mands such as a di­rect ser­vice be­tween Cape Town and Harare. Also, it is im­por­tant to note that due to growth plans put in place by a Cape Town Air Ac­cess team, we also wanted to par­tic­i­pate and take ad­van­tage of the avail­able op­por­tu­ni­ties out of Cape Town by con­nect­ing the city to the rest of the con­ti­nent.

Q: Has RwandAir made any changes to its fleet in the last 18 months?

A: RwandAir re­cently took delivery of Boe­ing 737-800 Next Gen­er­a­tion and A330-300 air­craft with full on-board con­nec­tiv­ity in­clud­ing GSM and wi-fi.

Q: Where is your fo­cus in terms of im­prov­ing your on-board busi­ness class prod­uct?

A: At the mo­ment, RwandAir has em­barked on re­brand­ing and re­ju­ve­nat­ing our busi­ness class prod­uct (called Dream Class), by en­sur­ing that we put in place a seam­less world-class ser­vice of­fer­ing. We have also fo­cused our en­ergy on en­sur­ing that com­fort and over­all ex­pe­ri­ence is in­di­vid­u­alised to each customer's needs. On-board con­nec­tiv­ity is one of our key unique sell­ing

points as it al­lows our busi­ness trav­ellers to stay con­nected if they choose to.

Q: What do you be­lieve your busi­ness class pas­sen­gers are look­ing for from their car­rier?

A: Out­side of the key im­por­tant el­e­ments such as on time de­par­ture and safety, busi­ness class trav­ellers pre­fer a cus­tomised ser­vice of­fer­ing which caters for their in­di­vid­ual needs, and at RwandAir we try our best to ren­der that ser­vice of­fer­ing.

Q: Where would you like to see RwandAir in 10 years’ time?

A: In the next 10 years we would like to see RwandAir be­ing Africa's air­line of choice for both busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers, as we ex­pand our net­work through our Ki­gali hub. Con­nect­ing pas­sen­gers through Ki­gali will en­sure im­proved in­tra-Africa con­nec­tiv­ity for most peo­ple trav­el­ling within the con­ti­nent. ■

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