Harare (New Ziana) – More international airlines are expected to start servicing the country next year, while some, from the 14 already doing so, are considering expanding their operations through increased frequency and use of larger aircraft following improvement in aviation infrastructure.
To improve the country’s major aviation infrastructure, the Victoria Falls and the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airports were upgraded to international standards, and both can now handle 1.5 million and 1.2 million passengers annually respectively.
The country’s biggest airport, the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International, is also being upgraded to increase its passenger capacity to 6 million people per year.
In an interview with New Ziana on Thursday, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) director general Engineer Elijah Chingosho said Zimbabwe was poised to attract more airlines.
“To help attract more traffic into the country, there are joint marketing efforts by various stakeholders such as the Airports Company of Zimbabwe, the local airlines, the National Handling Companies, CAAZ and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. With these and other efforts, the number of airlines flying into the country is expected to increase,” he said.
“Some of the current airlines flying into Zimbabwe are expected to expand their operations through using larger aircraft or increasing frequency of services.”
For example, Ethiopian Airlines recently added Bulawayo to its destination list in Zimbabwe after Victoria Falls and Harare.
Chingosho said the upgrading of airports also included the installation of the latest Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) systems which enhance aviation safety.
“We also expect more international carriers to start operations into the country given the liberalised aviation environment, more investor friendly business environment and improved infrastructure at the three international airports and the acquisition and installation of modern air traffic and navigation systems such as the recently installed three Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Radio Range and Distance Measuring Equipment (DVOR/ DME) systems at Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and Masvingo Airports.
“The Authority has also embarked on the modernisation of Air Traffic Control communication systems and radar surveillance systems which projects are expected to be completed in the year 2023,” he said.
The 14 international airlines flying into the country include Air Botswana, Airlink, Air Tanzania, Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Eurowings Discover, Kenya Airways, LAM Mozambique Airlines, KLM (Cargo), MackAir, Malawian Airlines, RwandAir, South African Airways, and Qatar Airways.
This is in addition to the two local airlines, Air Zimbabwe and Fastjet Zimbabwe which are both expanding their operations and fleet sizes.
“The aviation sector in Zimbabwe has seen a major rebound and is almost to the levels of 2019 in terms of passenger and aircraft movements, cargo throughput and over flyers. The rebound of the aviation sector is a very positive and welcome development for the country as the tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors are now abuzz with activities,” Chingosho said.
“Going into 2023, we are very optimistic that the aviation sector will continue on the upward growth trend and barring any major global disturbance such as another disease pandemic, the outlook is for the sector to exceed the 2019 performance.”