East African carrier RwandAir has taken delivery of its first dedicated freighter as it seeks to expand its cargo operations.
On November 24, the airline took delivery of its first dedicated cargo aircraft, the Boeing 737-800SF, which is painted in RwandAir’s first cargo livery and will be based at the carrier’s Kigali hub.
The airframe – 9XR-WW – is a former TUI passenger aircraft that is being leased to RwandAir through Merc Aviation, according to Cirium Fleets.
The lessor acquired the airframe in February this year, with its conversion being completed earlier this month.
RwandAir will operate the new freighter to a number of key destinations in Africa and the Middle East, including Johannesburg, Nairobi, and the United Arab Emirates.
“The delivery of our dedicated cargo aircraft is a huge milestone in the aairline’s fleet expansion plans. Cargo is of ever-increasing importance for the aviation industry, and as a landlocked country, we recognise the importance and value of good cargo connections. We want to ensure that Africa is seamlessly connected to the world, driving economic growth and valuable trade deals.” Yvonne Makolo, RwandAir chief executive.
The airline currently operates to a variety of destinations across East, Central, West, and Southern Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
The Rwandan carrier has been mulling an addition of a dedicated freighter since 2020 to take advantage of the rising demand for air cargo services.
At that time, the airline managed to repurpose its widebodies in order to fill the cabins with cargo with the carrier’s two Airbus A330s – one -200 and one -300 – during the pre-Covid period.