Kigali International Airport
Kigali International Airport is the primary airport serving Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. It is the main air gateway for all destinations in Rwanda and also serves as a transit airport for Goma and Bukavu in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as well as Burundi and Uganda. Kigali International airport was formerly called Gregoire Kayibanda International airport but now referred to as Kanombe International airport given its location in the suburbs of Kanombe, at the eastern edge of Kigali city of Rwanda approximately 5 km away and 10 km, east of the Central Business District of the City. Travelers going on a Rwanda Safari Tour can use Kigali International Airport to be able to later go to these attraction sites like Akagera National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Rwanda is a landlocked country and so during the Rwanda Civil war, Kigali International airport was a major strategic place as it represented an easy way in and out of Rwanda. The airport has two runways, however, one runway was closed after the Arusha Accords on, and this was a Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) signed on the 4th of August 1993 on request by RPF. However, in 1994 the President of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira were shot dead and this is uncertain who shot down the plane, either the Rwanda Patriotic Force or the Rwandan Defence Forces. This triggered the renewal of civil war and also the start of the Rwanda genocide. In the following years after the genocide, measures to develop Rwanda were implemented including the refurbishment and modernization of the Kigali airport. This made Kigali airport one of the most beautiful airports in Africa and surprisingly was been ranked as the second-best airport in Africa in 2017 because of its compliance with the ICAO standards and its fire and safety standards.
Kigali International airport has an elevation of 1,490 meters above sea level with one of the highest terminal in the world with a 3,500 meters runway that allows different types and sizes of aircraft to land and increase passenger traffic. Kigali airport currently has 3 terminals and 2 heliports whereby the first one is the main terminal constructed to replace the smaller building that now houses the VIP terminal thus the second terminal and the third terminal is the one for Cargo. The main terminal has a capacity of handling up 7 small and mid-sized aircraft and even Boeing 747 jets. At the end of the Southern runway, there are two helicopter pads that allow passengers to easily access the main runway. According to 2016 statistics, Kigali airport has served over 710,000 from 600,000 passengers in 2013, 488,903 passengers in 2012, 377,327 passengers in 2011, 270,000 passengers in 2008 and 135,000 passengers in 2004.
Rwandair is Rwanda’s national carrier and it has its head offices on the top floor of the airport in the main building including the Akagera Aviation (A Rwandan heli-company) and Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority. In addition to the above carries, there are other airlines based in Kigali airport including; Nexus Aero which is a Saudi VIP airline, Tempus Jet which is an American airline proving charter flights. Some of the international airlines serving in Kigali international airport include; Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Ethiopia Airlines, Air Canada, South African Airways, just to mention a few.
Kigali International Airport has a number of services that passengers enjoy on arrival or departure such as free WiFi around the waiting areas, luggage wrapping, a Café for food and drinks, ATM machines and mobile points for those intending to acquire Rwanda Sim-cards and charge their phones, airport lounges, this is based on pay per use, single visit, and lounge membership. However, passengers can also get these services outside the airport given that the airport is less than 20 minutes’ drive from the Kigali city of Rwanda. There are hotels very close to the airport some of which include; La Palisse, Civitas Hotel, Chez Lando, Kwetu Guesthouse, to mention a few.
How to access the Kigali International airport
Airport taxis are the commonest and most available means of transport from the airport. They are ready available for hire within the transportation area of the airport. You pay a certain amount of fees and you will be driven to any destination you advise. For backpackers, there are mini-buses locally called Matatu also available. If you have light luggage, this would be the best option for you. There are available also very close to the airport terminal. For passengers interested in parking their own transport means in the airport premises, that is accepted however, the parking fees are charged depending on the number of days the vehicle will be parked. There are also charges incurred for parking for pick-ups. Every vehicle that enters the airport has to pay parking fees. These funds are that one used in the improvement of the airport services.
Therefore, if you are planning to fly into or out of Rwanda, Kigali International airport is the place to go. Security measures are highly implemented and customer service is at its peak. There are some of the things you need to consider to be able to access the Kigali International airport. These include; ensure you have your travel documents right such as your passport, Visa, Yellow fever vaccination as these are the major items for anyone entering Rwanda. This is done by the immigration authority in Rwanda. Visit Rwanda and explore the beauty of Rwanda right from the airport to Kigali city and other attractions Rwanda has to offer.