Kigali International Airport is located in Kigali 10kms east of the central business district in the suburbs of Kanombe. Its former name was “Gregoire Kayibanda” International Airport, although some refer to it as Kanombe International Airport due to its location in Kanombe. The current name, Kigali International Airport, was adopted in 1999. Initially, the airport had two runways, but one was subsequently closed following a request from the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) on 3rd August 1993 during the Arusha Peace Accord.
On April 6th, 1994 the presidential jet which was carrying H.E Juvenile Habyarimana of Rwanda and H.E Cyprian Ntabyamira of Burundi was shot down by a surface-to-air missile as it approached Kigali Airport killing all the people on board. It’s still not clear who shot the plane down whether it’s the RPF or the Rwandese Defense Forces. This led to the renewal of the Rwanda civil and even sparked of the 1994 Rwanda genocide that left almost 1,000,000 people dead mainly Tutsis and some moderate Hutus.
Kigali Airport is elevated at 1491m making it one of the highest international airports in the world. It has a runway of 3500m hence making it safe for all kinds of Airplanes to land safely. Kigali International Airport has three terminals. The main terminal (two-story building) was built to replace the single-story building that now serves as the VIP terminal. The main terminal has a capacity to handle 6 medium-size jets as well as a Boeing 747jet. The third terminal is used for cargo.
Kigali Airport is the main air gateway for all the destinations in and out of Rwanda. It also serves as a transit Airport to neighboring countries like Burundi, Eastern DRC-Democratic Republic of Congo in the towns of Bukavu and Goma as well as southwestern Uganda. Apart from Kigali Airport, Rwanda has 4 0ther Airports including Kamembe Airport, Ruhengeri Airport, Butare Airport, and Gisenyi airport.
There are other International Airlines that fly to Kigali airport. These include; KLM, Brussels, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Egypt Air among others. These airlines fly from Amsterdam, Brussels, Doha, Addis Ababa, Istanbul, Nairobi, etc. to Kigali. There are also Cargo air crafts that fly to Kigali. They include Ethiopian airline cargo, Qatar airways cargo, Kenya airways Cargo, and Astral aviation cargo.
Rwanda Air also flies to different destinations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and very soon they will start flights to North America. These destinations include Entebbe, Nairobi, Bujumbura, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Cotonou, Accra, Libreville, Mumbai, Guangzhou, Dubai, London Gatwick, Brussels among other destinations.
Kigali Airport is one of the best airports in the region actually it’s number one in East Africa because of its excellent customer care services and punctuality. In 2017, it earned the 7th position for its fire and safety standards and secured the 2nd place in Africa for its compliance with ICAO Standards.
The Kigali airport offers a range of facilities including Free WIFI in the waiting area, ATM machines, baggage wrapping, Airport lounges available for a fee, a café serving food and drinks, three modern conveyor belts for seamless movement of passenger luggage, over 10 check-in desks, a well-equipped health center, and duty-free shops.
It has also become an option for tourists traveling to southwestern Uganda in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks for gorilla tracking. These parks are just a few km from the border. The driving time from Kigali to these parks is 4-5 hrs. while the driving time from Entebbe to Bwindi and Mgahinga is 8-9hrs drive. This makes Kigali airport the best option because it’s very close as compared to Entebbe.
An increase in the number of passengers has prevented further expansion of Kigali International Airport due to limitations in the physical makeup, particularly the topography. The airport was initially designed to accommodate 400,000 passengers per year. Therefore, in 2016 the Government of Rwanda started plans to build a new airport so that they can meet the high demand.
A Portuguese construction company initiated the work on Bugesera International Airport in 2017. The airport is situated 40 km southeast of Kigali on the south side of the Nyabarongo River. The construction will proceed in two phases. During the first phase, the airport will feature one runway, with plans to add a second one later. Once the construction is complete, the airport will have the capacity to handle 1.7 million passengers per year, eventually increasing to 4.5 million per year.
Kigali International Airport can be accessed from the city center by hiring private taxis, motorcycle taxis, and or hire an airport taxi from the airport. Alternatively, you can arrange with a local tour operator like Safari Vacations & Travel Services Ltd for all your ground handling services. We are highly rated on trip advisor as well as Safari bookings.