Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) will introduce three more flights in southern Africa from October, taking its weekly regional flights to 16.
The airline currently has eight weekly flights into South Africa.
Public relations manager, Shingai Taruvinga, said on Tuesday AirZim would introduce three weekly flights on the Harare-Lusaka and Harare-Lilongwe routes.
The airline has completed research on the viability of a further two weekly flights on the Harare-Durban route to be rolled out in October before it adds three weekly flights into London from November.
“We will increase our frequencies on the three routes as demand peaks,” Taruvinga told The Financial Gazette.
“We have done a lot of research and it is promising. There is a lot of movement of passengers on those routes. As we said when we re-launched flights, we wanted to consolidate our domestic routes before expanding into the region,” she said.
AirZim, which collapsed under the weight of massive debt and depleted passenger numbers in 2011, has been on an aggressive domestic and regional route network expansion since bouncing back in November last year.
Its market share on the domestic market shrunk to less than five percent in 2012, from over 10 percent in 2010 following the temporary suspension of flights.
AirZim is currently servicing the Harare-Bulawayo and Harare-Victoria Falls routes where it has been using the 50-seater Embraers and Boeing 737s.
On the Harare-Johannesburg flights, introduced in November last year, AirZim has been using its recently leased Airbus (A380).
Last month, AirZim reintroduced flights on the cash-spinning Victoria Falls-Johannesburg route, where competition is stiff. Regional giants, South African Airways and British Airways ComAir, dominate the country’s south western airway.
“People are still getting used to the new service on the Victoria Falls-Johannesburg route,” she said, an indication that the airline was still settling on the route.
“Most passengers who fly on that route plan ahead, but we expect improvement with time,” said Taruvinga.
On the Harare-Durban route, AirZim will compete with South African Express, which started flights last month. The Zimbabwean airline has the advantage of a using the A380 aircraft, which has been a passenger puller since its arrival.
|Fast facts about Air Zimbabwe:|
|Introducing 3 more flights from October||Harare – Lusaka (3 flights)
Harare – Lilongwe(3 flights)
Harare – Durban (2 flights)
|Number of regional flights||16 (After the introduction of new flights)|
|Flights to London||Start in November 2013|
AirZim is the backbone of the country’s tourism industry.
The problems that have confronted it in the past decade have had far-reaching implications on the industry, where accessibility into Zimbabwean destinations has become difficult.
Tourist arrivals from Europe have been declining partly because AirZim has stopped flights into London.
There are over 500 000 Zimbabweans resident in England. Some of them have been forced to connect into Harare through Kenya, South Africa and other countries, making their travel difficult.
Meanwhile, the global tourism industry has defied threats posed by a crippling recession in the Eurozone in the past two years to continue on a growth trajectory.
UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai, said the industry was an important contributor to Gross Domestic Product and job creation in most African countries.
“The last two years were also marked by a slower than expected global recession, a lingering recession in the Eurozone and remarkable geopolitical changes in many parts of the world,” Rifai said.
“In spite of these many challenges, international tourism continued to grow, reaching all-time records. International tourist arrivals grew by four percent in 2012 and by five percent in the first half of 2013, exceeding thus UNWTO’s initial forecast for the current year of a three to four percent growth,” he said.
“Tourism is a central sector for the future of all countries, but particularly of developing nations in Africa, where it accounts for an increasing number of jobs, community developments, investment and export earnings,” Rifai said.
Date: 29 August 2013