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Kigali International Airport

Kigali International Airport

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Kigali International Airport , formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, but sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport, is the primary airport serving Kigali
Kigali, population 965,398 , is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation, and has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of...

, the capital of Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

. It is the main air gateway for all destinations in the country, and in addition serves as a transit airport for Goma
Goma is a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. The lake and the two cities are in the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, and Goma lies only 13 to 18 km due south of the crater of the active...

 and Bukavu
Bukavu is a city in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo , lying at the extreme south-eastern extent of Lake Kivu, west of Cyangugu in Rwanda, and separated from it by the outlet of the Ruzizi River. It is the capital of the Sud-Kivu province and as of 2009 it had an estimated population of...

 in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.


The airport is located in the suburb of Kanombe, at the eastern edge of Kigali, approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi), by road, east of the central business district
Central business district
A central business district is the commercial and often geographic heart of a city. In North America this part of a city is commonly referred to as "downtown" or "city center"...

 of the city of Kigali
Kigali, population 965,398 , is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation, and has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of...

.. In May 2011, the Rwanda CAA announced, that Kigali airport will be upgraded to meet the strong demand .

In 2004, the airport served 135,189 passengers. In 2008, the airport served about 300 000 passengers


There are three terminals at Kigali. The main two storey terminal was built to replace the single storey building, now housing the VIP terminal. The main terminal can handle 6 small to mid-size aircraft, but it can also handle up to a Boeing 747
Boeing 747
The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

The south side of the runway has two helicopter pads with access to main runway. The pads are used for military helicopters.
A cargo terminal is also located at the airport. The latest upgrades to the tarmac and support systems were made in 2002.
There is free WiFi in the waiting area.

RwandAir is an airline with its head office on the grounds of Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda. It is the national carrier operating services to East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and the Middle East.-History:...

 has its head office on the top floor of the airport's main building. The airline previously had its head office in Centenary House in Kigali. 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.

Airport Lounge
The Pearl Lounge in Kigali, operated by NAS, features everything the modern traveler needs prior to departure. High speed Wi-Fi internet, various snacks, sandwiches and a wide range of beverages are available throughout the day. As well as providing lounge services to airline customers travelling in Business and First Class, the Pearl Lounge in Kigali will also welcome Priority Pass and Airport Angel members. Corporate accounts, individual annual membership and a simple ‘pay as you use’ ($25) are all available for passengers travelling through Kigali International Airport irrespective of the airline you are travelling on or the class of travel.

The lounge is located after the final x-ray point adjacent to gate 1.

New Kigali (Bugesera) International Airport

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 growth (no room for additional runway and facilities). The new airport will have one runway, but it can allow a second to be added later. The project should begin in 2010, ready for flights by 2012 and completed the first phase by 2025.

Airlines and destinations

Cargo airlines

Incidents and accidents

  • 6 April 1994 – A Falcon 50 owned by and carrying then-president of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana
    Juvénal Habyarimana
    Juvénal Habyarimana was the third President of the Republic of Rwanda, the post he held longer than any other president to date, from 1973 until 1994. During his 20-year rule he favored his own ethnic group, the Hutus, and supported the Hutu majority in neighboring Burundi against the Tutsi...

     was shot down
    Assassination of Habyarimana and Ntaryamira
    The assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira on the evening of April 6, 1994, was the catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide. The airplane carrying Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali, Rwanda....

     while approaching the airport, killing all 12 aboard including Habyarimana and then-president of Burundi
    Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

    , Cyprien Ntaryamira
    Cyprien Ntaryamira
    Cyprien Ntaryamira , was President of Burundi from 5 February 1994 until his death when his plane was shot down on 6 April 1994.-Biography:...

    , who were returning from a meeting to end Rwanda's civil war. Ironically 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
    The Interahamwe is a Hutu paramilitary organization. The militia enjoyed the backing of the Hutu-led government leading up to, during, and after the Rwandan Genocide. Since the genocide, they have been forced out of Rwanda, and have sought asylum in Congo...

     militias had begun the Rwandan Genocide
    Rwandan Genocide
    The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

    . 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 (Congo Democratic Republic). The airplane was headed for Goma, Congo, 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
    RwandAir Flight 205
    RwandAir Flight 205 was a Canadair CRJ-100 that crashed after an emergency landing at Kigali, Rwanda killing one passenger. The flight was operated by JetLink Express on behalf of RwandAir.-Accident:...

    , 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.

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