Small airports set for upgrade

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Harare (New Ziana) – The Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) said on Thursday it planned to upgrade all small airports in the country to increase their passenger and cargo handling capacity.

ACZ chief executive officer, Tawanda Gusha said the airports, such as Buffalo Range and Kariba, were currently operating at less than one percent of their capacity because of infrastructure limitations.

The company is in the final stages of completing refurbishment and expansion of all the country’s major airports, such as Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Victoria Falls and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo have already been refurbished and upgraded to international standards.

This was intended to support the revival and growth of the tourism industry, identified by the government as a low hanging fruit in the country’s economic turn-around plans.

Gusha said ACZ had already received ‘unsolicited’ enquiries from potential partners for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the smaller airports, which include Masvingo and Hwange.

“At the moment, our smaller airports are not being fully utilised, they are under-utilised and some of the constraints being issues to do with infrastructure,” he said.

“The smaller airports are operating at, I can tell you they are operating at less than one percent of capacity. We have received unsolicited expressions of interest but we are still working on our investment package or portfolio.”

Gusha said the company was working on documentation required for the various projects involved, ahead of engaging potential partners.

He could not tell how much funding the projects would require.

“At the moment it will just be a thumb suck figure, what we need to do is when we do our expression of interest we will be starting from feasibility studies which will then indicate the kind of infrastructure which will be needed at the airports because each airport is different,” he said.

“We are currently working on the documentation so we will be issuing out our call for expression of interest this year so that by the end of the year we will be having some feasibility studies.”

Highlighting the importance of quality aviation infrastructure in attracting increased air traffic, Gusha said more international airlines were now eying Zimbabwe because of upgraded infrastructure at its bigger airports.

“It is the confidence that the airlines have in the destination and we as the Airports Company are playing our part in ensuring that the infrastructure is ready and is available and modernised,” he said.
New Ziana

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