Kigali International Airport

Kigali International Airport formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport is the main gateway to Rwanda. The airport is located in the suburb of Kanombe at the eastern edge of Kigali City the capital city of Rwanda which is 5 kilometers from east of the central business district of the city. Kigali international airport also services as the transit airport to Bukavu and Goma Town in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. At an elevation of 1,491 meters. Kigali international airport hosts the main head offices of Rwanda, it handles both domestic and international, and the airport uses codes of KGL by International Air Transport Association (IATA) and HRYR by International Civil Aviation Organization for ICAO.

Kigali International City hosts significant historical events which are so important to the people of Rwanda and the nation at large

Rwandan civil war. The airport was largely used during the Rwanda Civil War as the main entry and exit point since Rwanda is a landlocked nation. Originally Kigali airport formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda international airport had two runways but after Arusha Accords (peace agreement between the government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front signed on 4 august 1993 in Arusha Tanzania) one runway was closed down following a request from Rwandese Patriotic Front. The Rwanda civil war was a conflict between the Rwandan Armed Forces representing the government of Rwanda and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) from 1990 to 1994 claiming a large number of Rwandese.

The assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira. In 1994 April Rwanda’s presidential airplane was shot down, it is not clear who is responsible for the assassination but this dispute sparked off the Rwandan genocide of 1994 which was against the Tutsi. The assassination of the president is presumed by historians to have been planned by at least for a year before it took place on 6th April 1994, president Habyarimana was the second president of Rwanda from 1973 to 1994 when he was killed in a plane crash and his death together with the president of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira. The assassination was due to dictatorship tendencies that were filled in Habyarimana’s regime and his electoral fraud which irritated his opposition.

Kigali international airport consists of the main terminal which is relatively big and can handle 6 small and midsized aircraft to Boeing 757. The terminal once had a single-story building but was replaced by a two-story which is now used as the VIP terminal. A 3500 meters runway has helicopter pads on its south side and a cargo terminal. Kigali international airport has gone through numerous renovations primarily to upgrade its statutes to and accommodate the increasing rate of clients for example in 2011 may Rwanda civil aviation authority (CAA) announced the upgrading of the airport and the process began in October 2012 and completed in May 2014, in 2012 tarmac and support system added to the airport’s runway, free WIFI is available in the waiting area. The airport is designated to handle 400,000 passengers yearly.

Kigali international national port has been recognized by numerous aviation organizations and has received numerous awards and rankings like:

  • Nominated for Africa’s leading airport 2009 
  • Nominated for Africa’s Leading Airport 2018
  • Nominated Africa’s Leading Airport 2017
  • Ranked best regional airport in the region in 2014
  • Ranked the best airport by International Aviation Organization standards.

Kigali International Airport handles a number of people who use it to either get in and of Rwanda or as a connecting point to other Rwanda’s neighboring countries with its statistics increasing daily. In 2004 the airport served 135,189 passengers, 270,000 in 2008. According to data from Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, passenger traffic increased by 30 % from 377,327 in 2011 to 488,903 in 2012 and the airport handled 300 flights a week. In 2013 the airport handled almost 600,000 with flight frequencies of about 400 weekly and in 2016 it handled an estimated 710,000 both international and domestic passengers.

Rwanda International Airport Entrance
Rwanda International Airport

Kigali international airport is a base to three airlines that is Akagera Aviation and Rwanda Heli-company with numerous airlines operating from Kigali international airport to various destinations. Flights operated by the airlines are both passenger and cargo. These airlines include:

Passenger flights include Brussels Airlines, Coastal Aviation, Coastal Aviation, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Qatar Airways, RwandAir, and Turkish Airlines.

Cargo flights Astral Aviation, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo, Kenya Airways Cargo, and Qatar Airways Cargo.

Chartered flights are also offered at Kigali international airport by Tempus jet (an American airline) and Nexus Aero a Saudi VIP airline. 

There are plans for the construction of a new Kigali (Bugesera) international airport of the capacity of 1.7 million a year south of Kigali to be located on the south side of the Nyabarongo River in Bugesera to replace the current Kigali international airport. This partly because the current airport’s location cannot support upgrades for example additional of new runways and other necessary facilities, the proposed airport construction to begin in 2015 is to have one runway with provisions for the later addition of the second. In 2016 September Rwandan government signed a contract with a Portuguese construction company. Based in South Africa Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, S.A, the company is to construct two phases of the airport with the first phase beginning in June 2017. When the first phase is completed by December the company Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, S.A is to operate the airport for 25 years.

A second phase is planned to be built to raise the capacity of the airport to 4.5 million a year. The company is contributing an investment of $ 818, $ 418 for the first phase and US$ 400 for the second phase and a company had a right to keep the profit from operating the airport as a way of getting their money back. As per the government of Rwanda was to contribute no cost towards the construction of the airport. In March 2019, the government of Rwanda confirmed that some of the construction processes were temporarily put on hold so as to redesign the plans of the airport to lift its standards to international standards.

Kigali international offers various services to tourists which include Information desk ATMs, Airport lounges, Internet, Shops, duty-free, Post office, Police & security, Luggage wrapping, Call center, Luggage scales, Cabin baggage, Last minute tickets, Health, Baggage disputes, and Bar & restaurant. 

“Traverse Rwanda by planning your Rwanda safari that will take you through Rwanda International Airport as the main gateway for arrivals and departures in the country.”

book a gorilla trip