Zimbabwe: Govt Courts Airlines for Victoria Falls

Recent figures show hotels at Victoria Falls are enjoying solid business -- occupancy rates in the area reached 77.6% in August, up from 62.6% in the same period in 2013. Recent figures show hotels at Victoria Falls are enjoying solid business -- occupancy rates in the area reached 77.6% in August, up from 62.6% in the same period in 2013.

Government says it is courting a number of international airlines, some of them from Turkey, Kenya and Dubai to fly into this resort town once the upgrade of the Victoria Falls International Airport has been completed.

Work on the multi-million dollar facility, bankrolled by China’s Exim Bank through a concessionary loan of US$150 million, started in February 2013 with the aim of boosting tourism and aircraft handling capacity.

The airport could have been commissioned earlier, but contractors have been missing deadlines.

The facility will now be completed in May this year after which it would be officially opened.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Joram Gumbo, visited the airport recently where he said the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) was in “behind doors” talks with a number of airlines.

“Marketing Victoria Falls Airport started a few years ago and last year CAAZ went to Dubai, behind the scenes as talks with airlines continue,” said Gumbo.

He revealed that some airlines had expressed interest in landing at the new look airport whose handling capacity would increase from 500 000 passengers per annum to 1,5 million.

It would also be able to handle long-haul jets, such as Airbus A340, Boeing 777 and Boeing 747, among others, while also increasing accessibility into Zimbabwe’s tourism.

“There are airlines that have expressed interest. These include Qatar, Lufthansa and Kenyan Airlines. Victoria Falls is the most important zone in our tourism sector and we want to make it the most attractive and bring a lot of international airlines,” said Gumbo.

The expanded airport includes a four-kilometre long runway .

The contractor, China Jiangsu International is now working on the car park, water tower and fire station before it refurbishes the old airport which will be used for domestic flights.

Overally, expansion work is 85 percent complete.

Source: AllAfrica