Roberta Katunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe plans to increase the number of airlines flying into the country’s airspace by 110 percent by 2020.
According to Caaz, there are 19 airlines flying into the country and the target is to increase them to 40 in the next three years.
Public relations and communications manager Ms Annajulia Hungwe said aggressive marketing strategies have been put in place that include targeted airline visits to lure the airlines to Zimbabwe, with entry points being Harare, Joshua Mqabuko International Nkomo and Victoria Falls International airports.
“Caaz attends Routes Development forums as well as other international travel and tourism fairs such as ITB Berlin, CITM (China), Indaba (Durban, South Africa) as collaborative marketing strategies with ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority) and other players in the travel and tourism industry all in an effort to market Zimbabwe as a destination and lure additional airlines,” said Ms Hungwe.
She said 2017 has seen the launch of flights by Rainbow Airlines, starting with flights between Harare and Victoria Falls International airports, with plans to expand the route network in addition to Ethiopian Airlines which announced the introduction of flights into Victoria Falls from Addis Ababa starting next month, linking the resort town to Gaborone, Botswana.
Ms Hungwe said more airlines are expected to utilise the country’s airspace like RwandAir which is introducing flights between Harare and Kigali in April as well as Kenya Airways’ Nairobi to Victoria Falls in May.
“These are some of the airlines that will be operating in the country this year and have been granted operating licences by Caaz,” Ms Hungwe said.
At the country’s aviation peak in the period 1999-2003, 34 airlines were flying into Zimbabwe but the number dwindled as the economic crisis prevailing then did not make economic sense for airlines to continue flying into the country.
CAAZ general manager Mr David Chawota said, “Capacity is there, it’s about efficiency. If Victoria Falls become an entry point for long haul, already that will give us capacity as a destination.”
The Government is on record saying the aviation industry is of strategic importance to national development as enshrined in Zim-Asset, the country’s economic blueprint.
The Government through the Transport and Infrastructural Development Ministry said it was committed to liberalising the air transport sector to ensure more airlines fly into the country and directly funds aviation infrastructure or helps in mobilising the required resources by way of concessionary loans.