Kigali International Airport

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Kigali International Airport
Airport typeCivil aviation airport
OperatorRwanda Airports Authority
LocationKigali, Rwanda
Hub forRwandAir
Elevation AMSL4,891 ft / 1,491 m
Coordinates01°57′59″S 030°07′59″E / 1.96639°S 30.13306°E / -1.96639; 30.13306Coordinates: 01°57′59″S 030°07′59″E / 1.96639°S 30.13306°E / -1.96639; 30.13306
KGL is located in Rwanda
Location within Rwanda
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10/28 11,482 3,500 Paved
Statistics (2016)

Kigali International Airport (IATA: KGL, ICAO: HRYR), formerly known as Grégoire Kayibanda International Airport, but sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport, is the primary airport serving Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It is the main air gateway for all destinations in the country, and in addition serves as a transit airport for Goma and Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The airport is located in the suburb of Kanombe, at the eastern edge of Kigali, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), by road, east of the central business district of the city of Kigali.[2]


During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Kigali airport was a major strategic point. Since Rwanda is a landlocked nation, this represented the only easy way in and out of the country. The airport had two runways, but after the Arusha Accords, one runway was closed down after a request from the RPF. Later in April 1994, President Habyarimana's plane was shot down. It is disputed whether the RPF or the FAR (Rwandan Defence Forces) shot down the plane. This event triggered the start of the genocide against the Tutsi.

Passenger traffic[edit]

In 2004, the airport served 135,189 passengers, and about 270,000 passengers in 2008.[3] In May 2011, the Rwanda CAA announced that Kigali airport will be upgraded to meet the strong demand.[4] Works started in October 2012 and will be completed in May 2014.[5] In 2012, data from Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority shows that passenger traffic through Kigali International Airport grew by 30 per cent to 488,903 last year, up from 377,327 in 2011.[6] The airport handled over 300 flights a week. The airport is designed to handle 400,000 passengers per year. International and domestic passenger numbers were nearly 600,000 in 2013,[1] while there were about 400 weekly flights.[citation needed] International and domestic passenger numbers totaled 710,000 in 2016.[1]


Rwandair Express Aircraft at Kigali airport

There are three terminals at Kigali. The main two-story terminal was built to replace the single-story building, now housing the VIP terminal. The main terminal can handle 6 small-to-midsized aircraft, but also up to a Boeing 747 jet. The south side of the runway has two helicopter pads with access to the main runway, used by military helicopters. A cargo terminal is also located at the airport. The latest upgrades to tarmac and support systems were made in 2002. There is free Wi-Fi in the airport waiting area. In 2014, Kigali Airport ranked as the seventh-best regional airport in Africa, because of its capacity to respond to disaster, through its fire department (Category Nine), the second-best according to International Aviation Organisation standards.

Rwandair has its head office on the top floor of the airport main building.[7][8] The airline previously had its head office in Centenary House in Kigali.[9] The airline began moving its operations from Centenary House to the airport on Friday 14 May 2010. The airline was scheduled to be moved in by Monday 17 May 2010.[8]

In addition, Akagera Aviation and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority have their offices at the airport.[10]

New Kigali (Bugesera) International Airport[edit]

There are plans to replace the current airport with a new one located south of Kigali on the south side of the Nyabarongo River in Bugesera. A new airport location is needed as the existing airport does not allow for upgrades such as additional runways and other facilities. The new airport will have one runway, with provisions for a second one to be added later. Construction was planned to begin in 2015.[11]

In September 2016, a contract between the Rwandan government and Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, S.A., a Portuguese firm, was signed. The company will construct the airport in two phases with works on the first phase now scheduled to begin in June 2017. After finishing the first phase by December 2018, Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, S.A. will subsequently operate the airport for 25 years. The airport will have a capacity of 1.7 million passengers per year. A second phase that is planned to be built after that is supposed to raise the capacity of the airport to 4.5 million passengers per year. Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, S.A. will cover the costs of US$418 million for the first phase and US$400 million for the second phase, leading to a total investment of US$818 million. As compensation, the company has the right to keep the profits from operating the airport. Under the agreement, the Rwandan government won't have to contribute to the costs of construction and operation.[12]

In March 2019, the government confirmed that some works were temporarily put on hold in order for a redesign to take place.[13] The redesign will ensure that the airport is up to international standards.

In December 2019, Qatar's state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, collaborated with the Rwanda Development Board to purchase a 60% stake in the Bugesera International Airport. Infrastructure minister Claver Gatete said, “We are looking for a bigger sized airport. That's why we are looking for a bigger investor.”[14]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

There are 3 airlines based in Kigali: Akagera Aviation, a Rwandan heli-company;[15] Tempus Jet, an American airline providing charter flights;[16] and Nexus Aero, a Saudi VIP airline.[17]


Brussels Airlines Brussels
EgyptAir Cairo
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa, Bujumbura
Israir Seasonal: Tel Aviv[18]
Kenya Airways Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Qatar AirwaysDoha
RwandAir Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Addis Ababa, Brussels, Cape Town (suspended),[19] Dar es Salaam, Douala, Dubai–International, Entebbe, Harare (suspended),[20] Johannesburg–O.R. Tambo (suspended),[21] Juba, Kilimanjaro, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, London–Heathrow, Mombasa, Mumbai, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta (suspended),[22] Tel Aviv
Turkish Airlines Istanbul


Magma Aviation Liege, Nairobi
Ethiopian Airlines Cargo Addis Ababa,[23] Brazzaville,[24] Bujumbura
Qatar Airways Cargo Doha, Liege, Entebbe, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta[25]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • 6 April 1994 – A Falcon 50 owned by and carrying then-president of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down while approaching the airport, killing all 12 aboard including Habyarimana and then-president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, who were returning from a meeting to end the Rwandan civil war. The wreckage landed in front of the presidential palace. The attack was blamed on Tutsi rebels, and, as a result, within one hour of the crash Interahamwe militias began the Rwandan genocide. There is no consensus on who actually shot down or ordered the attack on the plane.
  • 1 June 2004 – An Antonov 32 owned by Sun Air (9XR-SN), reportedly suffered some problems with the left main undercarriage after takeoff from Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The airplane was headed for Goma, but diverted to Kigali for an emergency landing. The aircraft crashed on landing, causing the Russian pilots and Congolese passengers to sustain serious injuries. The An-32 involved in the accident had been detained in Goma mid-July 2003 because it carried a shipment of armaments destined for a Rwanda-backed militia in the Congolese Kasai region.
  • 12 November 2009, RwandAir Flight 205, a Bombardier CRJ-100 crashed into a VIP terminal shortly after an emergency landing; out of the 10 passengers and 5 crew, 1 passenger died.


  1. ^ a b c Julien Clémençot (23 June 2017). "Aéroports : l'Afrique prend de l'altitude". Jeune Afrique. Archived from the original on 27 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Road Distance Between Kigali And Kanombe With Map". Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Four years ago, Kigali International Airport (KIA) used to handle 40–60 take-offs a week, with about 270,000 travelers a year using the airport". 7 March 2013. Archived from the original on 10 June 2013.
  4. ^ Majyambere, Gertrude (13 May 2011). "Rwanda: Kigali International Airport to Get Rwf8 Billion Facelift". Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2017 – via AllAfrica.
  5. ^ "News details". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  6. ^ "New Rwanda airport ready for take-off". 19 February 2014. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  7. ^ "All RwandAir Offices & Branches Archived 6 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine." RwandAir. Retrieved on 24 May 2011. "Kigali Head Office Kigali International Airport Main Building (top floor)"
  8. ^ a b "Announcement on RwandAir Head Office shift from Centenary House to new airport office Archived 15 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine." RwandAir. Retrieved on 16 June 2010.
  9. ^ Flight International 12–18 April 2005
  10. ^ "ANNUAL CONTRACT FOR OFFICE STATIONERY SUPPLY Archived 21 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine." Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved on 3 March 2013. "1. Tender Documents in ENGLISH may be obtained from Kigali International Airport (RCAA offices)"
  11. ^ The construction of the Bugesera Airport is expected to commence in 2015. First Phase completed for 2017, Archived 9 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Portuguese firm takes over Bugesera airport project, says works to be completed in 2018". New Times. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Qatar Airways to buy new Rwandan international airport". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  15. ^ "About Akagera". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Tempus Jets international operations". Archived from the original on 3 March 2013.
  17. ^ "Our headquarters are based in Saudi Arabia with a back-up Flight Operations Centre located in Bahrain as well as a new Africa base in Rwanda". Archived from the original on 23 June 2013.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Ethiopian Airlines Cargo Schedule". 29 February 2012. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014.
  24. ^ "Ethiopian to transport cargo to Brazzaville | The Rwanda Focus". 6 May 2013. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013.
  25. ^ "Martinair Services Kigali From Amsterdam" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2009.

External links[edit]

Media related to Kigali International Airport at Wikimedia Commons