Air Zimbabwe targets Dubai route expansion

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NATIONAL airline, Air Zimbabwe, is focused on expanding domestic and international route networks with focus now on servicing the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Dubai market, acting chief executive officer, Tafadzwa Zaza has said.

With the global community opening its borders after two years of constrained international travel due to Covid-19 lockdown measures, tourism and trade movement is resuming. This has created demand for air transportation at home, regionally and intercontinentally, which the national airline wants to tap into.

The Dubai route, in particular, is set to become busy in tandem with the growth in bilateral trade relations between Zimbabwe and the UAE, which has become Zimbabwe’s second largest trading partner after South Africa.

Although Air Zimbabwe has for some time gone through operational difficulties, the Government had to intervene by placing it under reconstruction to allow its recovery as a strategic entity to the economy and the model is working well, said Mr Zaza who was part of the delegation that visited Dubai this week to engage with potential investors.

The visit was part of the recent tourism and infrastructure finance conference that was organized on the sidelines of the country’s participation at the on-going World Expo 2020 Dubai.

“We are currently operating on a thin route network servicing the domestic routes in Zimbabwe, that is, Harare -Victoria Falls and Harare – Bulawayo. We are also operating regionally into South Africa as well as Tanzania,” said Mr Zaza.

“In 2022, after consolidating on the domestic routes to enable tourism, we will grow regionally and after that we plan to do at least one inter-continental destination and one of the destinations that is earmarked is Dubai and engagements are under way.”

The airline has recently indicated that it was working on taking delivery of new aircraft to boost its fleet by the first quarter of 2022, which will enable it to launch additional routes.

Mr Zaza said their 2022 strategic focus was to widen the current domestic route network so as to cater for the anticipated jump in tourism traffic. He stated that the national airline was ready for partnerships especially towards servicing certain key resort destinations that are not being serviced by air.

“There are some tourists’ destinations here in Zimbabwe that need to be serviced and we invite investors so that we operate with the right equipment to service those routes,” said Mr Zaza.

“Some of the current fleet we have cannot be used on these small airports and the Airports Company of Zimbabwe is seized with upgrading those airports so that they are accessible.”

Mr Zaza said the plans by the German-owned carrier, Eurowings, to introduce flights to Victoria Falls by the end of this month, were good news to the country and hinted that Air Zimbabwe was ready to partner with such big players on passenger transfer terms to different local tourism destinations.

“We want to develop a strong hub and strong network like Harare as the main hub and Victoria falls as the tourist hub, connecting to other destinations,” he said.

“We are currently operating ad hoc cargo flights as well and we operated during the Covid-19 period with flights going to pick vaccines in China and we did well during that period.” 

Source: Herald