Egypt Air returns to Harare skies on 1st June 2013 after a nine-year absence.
The airline will fly four times a week between Harare and Cairo via Dar es Salaam, using a Boeing 737-900. Speaking at a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Egyptian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bassem Khalil said he was happy the relaunch of Egypt Air flights was now “a reality”.
“This is one of the targets that I set myself when I assumed my post in September last year. I am a firm believer that relations of any kind between nations start with the establishment of a direct, low-cost transport link. I believe that the coming in of Egypt Air will enhance our economic, political and cultural relations.”
He added there was also potential for growth in tourism for both countries, while culturally, there was a Egyptian folklore group now in the country to perform at the Harare International Festival of the Arts, currently underway.
Ambassador Khalil said although his country had gone through “some challenges” these would soon be overcome.
“We are willing to take the necessary steps to ensure that we strengthen our relations with a sister country like Zimbabwe,” he said.
The ambassador predicted the return of Egypt Air would offer the diplomatic community an alternative airline to take them to various destinations in Africa and abroad.
Secretary of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Mr Munesu Munodawafa said the return of Egypt Air was “strategic” as it had come at an opportune time when Zimbabwe was preparing to host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Victoria Falls in August.
“The return of Egypt Air has come at the right time because it has been the missing link in terms of connectivity from North Africa,” he said.
“You have also done well by making a very strategic business decision to link that connectivity with East Africa. This will help in bringing in our visitors from your part of the continent to Zimbabwe, especially during the UNWTO.”
He added the gesture was an indication by the Egyptian government and its people of their desire to strengthen relations with Zimbabwe.
“As Zimbabwe, we will do our best to ensure that your airline’s personnel and passengers receive world-class treatment on their arrival and during check-in and departure. I believe this is a very viable route and I think that very soon, you will be thinking about increasing the frequency of flights and the introduction of a bigger aeroplane on this route,” he said.
Mr Munodawafa challenged the tourism sector to ensure they made the best of the opportunity presented by the resumption of flights by EgyptAir to come up with packages that attract tourists to Zimbabwe.
“I would like to appeal to the tourism sector that we need to ensure that our visitors are welcome and that we extend the hospitality that we are known for as a country to them because before any investor comes to invest in the country they come as a tourist.
“We have the Victoria Falls and they have their Pyramids, which are both one of a kind. The onus is on you to put in place big plans to tap into this opportunity and to show us how creative you are,” he said.
By: Walter Muchinguri and Kudakwashe Pembere
Date: 1 May 2013