Kigali International Airport

Kigali International Airport is the main entry point for a great majority of arrivals in Rwanda. The airport is located approximately five kilometers east of Kigali city center, in the suburb of Kanombe. The air is sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport. It also serves as a transit airport for Goma and Bukavu in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kigali international airport is managed by Rwanda Airports Authority and is a civil aviation airport, following the guidelines and rules of operation set by IATA (International Air Transport Association).

A Brief History of Kigali International Airport.

Kigali international airport was a major strategic point during the Rwanda Civil war that took place from 1st October 1990 to 18th July 1994. Given that Rwanda is a landlocked country, the airport acted as the most convenient way in and out of the country.

The airport previously had two runways but one was closed down following a plea from the RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) during the Arusha Accords, a peace agreement that was signed between the Government of Rwanda and the RPF.

In April 1994, the plane carrying Rwanda’s President Juvénal Habyarimana and the Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down prior to its landing in Kigali airport. It is this tragic event that sparked off the Rwandan Genocide.

Kigali International Airport
Kigali International Airport

However, since the tragedy, a lot has been done by the Rwandan government in getting the airport back to its full operation. The airport was been named Africa’s 7th best regional airport in 2014. A major contributor to this was the airport’s capacity to respond to disaster, with its fire department ranking as the second-best according to international aviation standards.

Airlines Operating in Kigali International Airport.

Visitors traveling to Rwanda should know that there are only three domestic airlines operating in Kigali Airport and these include; Akagera Aviation, Tempus Jet and Nexus Aero. Travelers who wish to charter flights to any of the national parks in Rwanda can use Akagera Aviation, which is a Rwandan heli-company. The Akagera Aviation company facilities most of the flights to Rwanda’s national parks.

Kigali International Airport is the main hub for Rwanda Air. Travelers who wish to fly with Rwanda Air should know that the airline has scheduled flights to over 15 destinations worldwide and these include but not limited to; Guangzhou, Kilimanjaro, Abuja, Accra, Brazzaville, Entebbe, Mombasa, Cape Town, Bujumbura, London-Gatwick, Dubai and other destinations.

Other commercial airlines with scheduled flights to Kigali include; Brussels Airlines, KLM, Kenya Airways, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Jambojet, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Coastal Aviation, and Kenya Airways.

Airport Transportation

Kigali International Airport has licensed taxis that are always available to transport visitors from the airport to the city center and all around Kigali city. Travelers do not need to worry about being duped by random taxis operators, as you can easily identify a licensed airport taxi by its white color with orange stripes and a ‘taxi’ roof sign. Their transportation fares are pocket-friendly for any traveler, although they are not as cheap as using other public transport means.

Travelers are always advised to ensure that you check the meter in your taxi to make sure that you are paying the right amount, with no extra fees charged. The advantage of using such taxis is that one does not have to negotiate the fare before getting in; which comes in handy for those whose bargaining power is not good.

Kigali Airport Passenger Traffic Capacity.

Originally, Kigali International Airport was designed to handle a passenger traffic capacity of 400,000 passengers, but following recent modifications and renovations done in the airport, it can now handle over 710,000 international and domestic passengers using the airport.

Facilities at the Airport

The Kigali International Airport has one runway which is 3500 meters long and 45 meters wide, capable of handling both large and small commercial and cargo planes. It also has 2 helipads and three terminals, with the main terminal capable of accommodating a large aircraft like a Boeing 747 jet and 6 medium-sized aircrafts at a time. The helipads are usually used for military helicopters and these can be found on the southern side of the runway.

The airport also has a cargo terminal which may prove to be quite helpful for those traveling to Rwanda for business purposes, with a major interest in importing or exporting goods in and out of the country. Cargo Airlines operating in Kigali international airport include; Astral Aviation, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo, Kenya Airways Cargo, and Qatar Airways Cargo.

Kigali International Airport offers passengers services like; free Wi-Fi internet, duty-free shops, ATM machines, luggage wrapping points, cafés, a modern and well-equipped health center, 14 check-in desks with helpful and kind staff, a baggage management section and airport lounges accessed at a fee.

The airport facility has two escalators and elevators to cater for the vulnerable. Other travelers accessing the airport are also allowed to use the said facilities as well.

If you are traveling to Rwanda using KLM, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Brussels Airlines, you may find the following information helpful;

  • Travelers using Turkish Airlines from Kigali usually have a stopover in Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. This can prove to be helpful for tourists who intend to embark on a Uganda Safari.
  • KLM has direct inbound flights from Amsterdam to Kigali, with flights scheduled on a daily basis. It is outbound flights from Kigali to Amsterdam have a stopover in Entebbe.
  • Brussels Airlines has some direct flights to Kigali while others have stopovers in Bujumbura. However, some of the outbound flights to Kigali have a stopover at Entebbe Airport.
  • Qatar Airways has flights from Doha to Kigali with a stopover in Entebbe. 

All the above-scheduled flights by the above Airline companies offer a great opportunity for tourists to visit both Uganda and Rwanda, especially if you intend to the ultimate gorilla trekking safari experience in both Rwanda and Uganda.

Kigali International Airport
Kigali International Airport

Requirements Needed at Kigali International Airport.

Foreigners flying to Kigali International Airport MUST have the following requirements to be granted access to Rwanda.

  • A valid Rwanda Tourist Visa which you can acquire for 50 USD, valid for 30 days.
  • A valid passport (Must be at least 6 months valid).
  • Medical Insurance and endeavor to make sure that your medical insurance plan provides coverage overseas.
  • A valid yellow  fever card

Do contact your trusted tour operator for the best travel options when planning your Rwanda Safari.

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