RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, recently said no to a proposal from the UK government. The proposal was about flying asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. This decision was made to protect the airline's reputation. RwandAir was worried about the possible negative effects on its brand from these flights.

RwandAir Turns Down UK Deal to Transport Asylum Seekers Over Brand Risk
A RwandAir plane
(Photo : Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash)

RwandAir Declines UK's Offer to Fly Asylum Seekers

The UK government approached RwandAir late last year, wanting to set up flights for removing asylum seekers to Rwanda. The airline, fully owned by the Rwandan government, has been increasing its flights to the UK. Starting from the end of this month, it will begin daily flights from London Heathrow Airport to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

According to Financial Times, a Home Office insider revealed that RwandAir turned down the offer because of concerns over brand damage. This refusal comes even though the Rwandan government supports the plan, seeing it as a point of national pride. The insider also noted the high costs of potentially using Royal Air Force planes for the same purpose.

The UK's plan, strongly advocated by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, aims to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel. This plan is a key part of Sunak's promises before elections. Despite a ruling by the Supreme Court last year that blocked the policy, and no flights yet, the government continues to push forward.

Meetings between UK and Rwandan leaders, including a recent one with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, show both countries' commitment to starting these flights by spring. Meanwhile, the Home Office is preparing to reintroduce the related legislation in Parliament soon, hoping to overcome previous challenges from the House of Lords.

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RwandAir Moves to Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport

RwandAir has shifted its operations to Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport to provide a better experience for passengers traveling to and from Rwanda. This move was announced as part of Heathrow Airport's efforts to improve how the airport works.

Since starting flights from Heathrow in October 2020, RwandAir has grown its service. Initially, RwandAir flew from London Gatwick, beginning in 2017. Now, the airline offers six direct flights each week to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, as reported by Business Traveller. This will increase to daily flights starting April 29. The flights use A330 planes which have 30 business class seats that fully recline and 244 economy seats.

Passengers flying in business class with RwandAir will now be able to use the Plaza Premium Lounge at Terminal 4. This lounge offers hot and cold food, a full-service bar, and showers with free toiletries.

Simon Rickman, RwandAir's Regional Manager for the UK and EU, explained that moving to Terminal 4 helps the airline run better and improve customer service. He highlighted that this change would make it easier for passengers to reach their gates quickly and with less walking.

Last year, RwandAir also began flying nonstop to Paris, France, with flights three times a week from Kigali to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

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