December 9, 2019 / 7:42 PM / in 8 months

Qatar Airways to take 60% stake in new Rwandan international airport

KIGALI (Reuters) - Qatar Airways has agreed to take a 60% stake in a new $1.3 billion international airport in Rwanda, the state-run Rwanda Development Board said on Twitter on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A Qatar Airways aircraft takes off at the aircraft builder's headquarters of Airbus in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

The board said a first phase of construction would provide facilities for 7 million passengers a year in the Bugesera district, about 25 km south east of the capital Kigali. A second phase, expected to be completed by 2032, would double capacity to 14 million passengers a year.

The country’s infrastructure minister Claver Gatete told a news conference that a construction company was still being sought to build the airport, and that once work starts, the first phase would take five years to complete.

Qatar Airways declined to immediately comment outside of normal business hours.

The plans for the new airport are a modification of those drawn up in 2017 for a smaller facility with a maximum capacity of 4.5 million passengers a year in the same location.

Company and government officials said at the time that Rwanda had signed a deal with the African division of Portuguese construction firm Mota-Engil (MOTA.LS) to build an international airport at a cost of $818 million.

Gatete said the investment from Qatar Airways would enable it to build the larger airport.

“We are looking for a bigger sized airport. That’s why we are looking for a bigger investor,” he said.

Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is currently visiting Kigali for the presentation of the International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Award.

Gatete said there was also a possibility that Qatar Airways would help state-run carrier RwandAir to expand, but gave no more details.

Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyinana; Additional reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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