Kigali International Airport formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport because of its location and it is the main airport serving Rwanda. It is the country’s main airport, but it is also of regional importance as it serves Congolese, Burundian and Ugandan cities.
Kigali International Airport is located at Kanombe in the eastern part of Kigali the capital city of Rwanda about 5km from the main town. This is the main gateway of accessing Rwanda by air transport. It is also here that visitors heading to destinations in the Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo passes. Kigali is closer and it is easier to connect to Goma town, Bukavu and Virunga National Park. Today, Kigali international airport has also become a popular gateway to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda. The highlight for visiting these two National Parks is Gorilla tracking because that is where half of the entire population of mountain Gorillas in the World lives.
Located at 1491 meters above sea level, its terminal is one of the highest in the World among International Airports. Its 3500 meter runway allows landing of all types of aircraft and has allowed the continuous increase of passenger traffic to the 800,000 passengers who passed through it by 2017.
Kigali International Airport has three terminals and two heliports. The main terminal was built to replace the smaller building that now serves as a VIP terminal. The third terminal is the cargo terminal, which enjoys great activity due to the isolation of Rwanda. The topography of Kigali does not allow extending the capacities of the current Airport and the passenger traffic being constantly increasing in Rwanda, a new Airport intended to serve the capital and to replace the Airport of Kanombe is currently under construction in Bugesera, 40km south of Kigali. The new Airport will have only one runway but will have the ability to see a second one built later.
In September 2016, the Rwandan government sealed a partnership with the Portuguese company Mota-Engil Engenharia e Constructor Africa. This company is responsible for the construction and for a 25 years management of the airport. The new airport will have at its inauguration a capacity of 1.7 million passengers per year. This capacity will be expandable to 4.5 million passengers once all infrastructures are completed.
Kigali International Airport is the main entrance for travelers on Rwanda safaris to Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park and passengers using the airport have been increasing over the years. One of the reasons for passenger increase is development of tourism in Rwanda and also the amazing Gorilla destinations in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the neighborhood of Rwanda.
Kigali International Airport was a major strategic point during the Rwandan civil war since it is a landlocked country, and this was the easiest way to access the country. There were 2 runways but one was closed after the Arusha accords where a Peace agreement between government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwanda Patriotic Front was signed on 4th August 1993 after this had been requested by Rwanda Patriotic Front.
In April 1994, the presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Rwanda and Burundi respectively were shot in the plane as it was preparing to land at Kigali International Airport. Both of these were Hutu and either the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) or Rwandan Defense Forces were suspected to have done this shooting. As a result, on the following day, the Rwanda genocide started and the country was in total disorganization and darkness. The war was massive and very many people lost their lives in a brutal way and this was the most mysterious violence that the country ever faced. After some time, the country got peace and there were plans of renovating and modernizing Kigali International Airport which was fulfilled. The Airport is now one of the most beautiful Airports in Africa, regardless of the small size of the country.
Rwanda has a national carrier Rwanda Air, operating both domestic and International flights around East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The head office of Rwanda Air is located on the top floor of the main building of Kigali International Airport. The offices of Rwanda Civil Aviation authority and Akagera Aviation are also situated at the Airport. Airline companies that serve at Kigali International Airport include Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, KLM, Qatar Airways, South African Airways, and Turkish Airlines among others.
There are several services and facilities that passengers who use Kigali international airport enjoy. For example a comfortable VIP lounges where you enjoy luxurious relaxation, WiFi which you enjoy at the waiting area, ATMs, Post office, Bar and restaurants, tight security, luggage wrapping, baggage disputes and more.
When you organize your travel with Great Adventure Safaris, our professional driver guide will pick you from the Airport and transfer you to the next destination or to your hotel depending on the program of the safari. He will also drop you back after your safari so that you catch up your flight back home.
If you are not planning to fly back home immediately, he will drop you at the agreed place of your choice where you can hire a car to drop you at the Airport.