(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Qatar Airways' expansion in Africa continues with Rwanda 's capital city of Kigali becoming its 17th destination on the continent and 113th globally.
The arrival of flight QR 536 to Rwanda's capital city of Kigali takes the airline's African capacity up to 132 passenger flights each week across a diverse network of cities, the Doha-based carrier said Saturday in a media statement.
A dramatic water salute soon after touchdown at Kigali International Airport signalled the arrival of Qatar Airways to its 113th international destination a remarkable feat for an airline celebrating only 15 years of operations.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker last week took the inaugural flight from Doha.
He received a colourful welcome by traditional Rwandan dancers followed by an airport ceremony attended by over 150 guests, including government ministers, local dignitaries, business leaders, airport officials and media.
Rwanda's Minister of Infrastructure Albert Nsengiyumva was the chief guest at the reception.
With a strong focus on operating to underserved markets worldwide, Kigali is one destination which clearly fitted the bill for Qatar Airways, said Al Baker during an arrival speech at the city's international airport.
"We have extended our reach to yet another underserved market with the launch of flights to Kigali," he said. "I would like to thank the Rwandan government, the local airport authority and the people of Rwanda for supporting Qatar Airways entry to this beautiful country.
"The direct daily air link between Doha and Kigali is further testament to Qatar Airways' commitment to expanding our presence in Africa and East Africa in particular, a dynamic region to where we already fly twice daily to both Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam and daily to Entebbe.
"Our newest route connects the mineral rich Rwandan landscape with the energy rich nation of Qatar, neighbouring Gulf states and cities around the world," added Al Baker, stressing that Africa continued to be a focus of growth for Qatar Airways this year as it plans further expansion across the Continent.
Minister Nsengiyumva, in his welcome address, said the arrival of a young and dynamic airline from the Middle East was a great boost for the aviation sector in Rwanda.
"The coming of Qatar Airways signals mutual development which will have a positive impact on the economic growth of both Rwanda and Qatar," he said, adding that the CEO's leadership of the award-winning airline was highly commendable."
In recent months, Qatar Airways launched new African services to Benghazi in Libya and the Ugandan city of Entebbe, with a further three route start-ups planned over the next few months - Mombasa in Kenya, and both Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar in Tanzania.
Rwanda is fast emerging as a growing economic centre, forming strong trade links with Europe and the Far East, thanks largely to its rich mineral resources. The country s economy is largely based on agriculture but has thriving mineral and tourism industries.
Home to the mountain gorilla, Rwanda attracts tourists from around the world fascinated by the country's wildlife and natural beauty.
Passengers travelling on Qatar Airways will have convenient access to Rwanda via the airline's Doha hub, and expansive global route network. Key travel markets to and from Rwanda include the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.
The Kigali flights are operated via Entebbe in Uganda. Passengers can purchase tickets between Kigali and Entebbe, allowing them to travel on business or leisure between the two cities.
The addition of daily flights to the Rwandan capital Kigali takes Qatar Airways' East African coverage, including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, up to 42 flights every week.
Other destinations currently served across Africa from Doha are Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, Khartoum, Seychelles, Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria, Benghazi, Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis and Casablanca.
The airline s expansion in 2012 includes new routes from Doha to Perth (Australia), Zagreb (Croatia), Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Helsinki (Finland), Belgrade (Serbia), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq) and Yangon (Myanmar). Apart from Kigali, the carrier last month launched flights to the Azerbaijan capital Baku and Georgia s capital city of Tbilisi.