Harare (New Ziana) – The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has set up an aviation training academy, the first of its kind in the country, as it seeks to widen its revenue streams.
A statutory body mandated with promoting and regulating civil aviation safety and security and providing related training, CAAZ currently generates its revenue from levies and charges on various services it renders to airlines.
In an interview with New Ziana, CAAZ director-general Elijah Chingosho said the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in reduced global air traffic, had impacted negatively on its traditional revenue streams.
Without disclosing the amount CAAZ earns in a “normal” operating year, Chingosho said for example in 2021, revenues declined by 50 percent.
“In 2020, for several months the airspace was closed. There was no aircraft movement so we were not able to collect any levies or taxes at all. In 2021 we were able to operate but many other jurisdictions were still closed so it meant that last year we could only collect approximately 50 percent of what we used to collect normally say compared to 2019. The Covid-19 era has had a negative impact on our revenue streams.
“We also have the air traffic control communication and navigation systems under us, so we get revenue from controlling aircraft in our airspace. That actually is the main source of revenue rather than the levies and so on,” he said.
“So the school we are starting now is a way of ensuring that in future we have got another strong revenue stream because we want to use it to train not only local, but also people from the region and once we grow, even further. The facilities are excellent and well equipped. We think that by end of March or the month after we should have the first courses running.”
Earlier, Chingosho told journalists at a media briefing that in addition to ensuring additional revenue for the authority, the school would ensure a continuous supply of skilled personnel to the local aviation industry.
Courses to be offered include international air law, aviation management, dangerous good awareness, and aviation security training.
“We are very excited about this because we think that there is no one in the country doing what we plan to do. We have some schools mainly focused on pilot training but we do not have an academy focused on various areas of civil aviation which we want to take on board,” he said.
Unpacking the current unbundling of CAAZ, Chingosho said this had resulted in the formation of an airports company that is in charge of airports in the country while the authority remained with the regulatory aspect.
He said the separation was in conformity with industry best practice where the regulator needs to be separate from the operator.
“By doing so, you eliminate conflict of interest and ensure that each party can effectively execute its mandate,” he said.
Chingosho pledged CAAZ’s commitment to developing the local aviation industry.
“What we want to do is facilitate air connectivity. As CAAZ we want to develop the industry, we want to make it easy for someone to fly say from Bulawayo to Lubumbashi (DRC) or from Maun (Botswana) to Kariba so that people can easily be connected to each other. This will also facilitate business and tourism,” he said.
“We do not want operators to come and go, so we want to make sure that the industry is sustainable so when we are giving advice to government and coming up with regulations, we want to make it easy for commercial operations, we want to be able to allow air transport services to help in the economic development of the country.”