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RwandAir Rejects UK Proposal to Transport Asylum Seekers to Kigali

The Home Office’s search for an airline willing to operate deportation flights to Kigali hit another bump last year after Rwanda’s state-owned airline refused to participate in the scheme.

Reports in the Financial Times suggest RwandaAir, which is based in the country’s capital, was approached by the UK government about operating flights to its hub but rejected the proposals over fears about the reputational damage it could cause.

The airline, which is wholly owned by the Rwandan government, has expanded its UK operations over the past year and will start daily commercial flights from London Heathrow airport to Kigali from the end of this month.

But it was unwilling to participate in the UK government’s scheme because of “potential damage to their brand”, a Home Office insider told the FT, noting the “irony” of the flag carrier distancing itself from a scheme that Rwanda’s government has said it is “proud” to be involved in.

They also cast doubt on the idea of contracting a Royal Air Force plane to transport asylum seekers, saying it would be “very expensive”.

The latest revelation comes on the back of news that properties earmarked for migrants deported from the UK have instead been sold to local buyers in Rwanda.

Of the 163 affordable homes on the Bwiza Riverside estate, 70% have been sold, meaning there is only space for a few dozen migrants, the Times reported.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman previously described the homes built as part of 257-unit scheme as “beautiful” and complimented the interior design.

The prices of the properties funded as part of a public-private partnership between the Kigali government and ADHI Corporate Group range between £14,000 and £27,000.

A manager at the estate said the homes had been sold to “private people who want to live in them”.

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