Victoria Falls International Airport’s capacity utilisation has risen from 21 to 26 percent recently while tourism players recorded a 20 percent boom in business owing to consistency by airlines in servicing the route. The new look airport was commissioned in 2016 with a capacity to accommodate wide bodied aircraft and 1.5 million passengers per annum.
Since commissioning, new airlines have opened routes and landed in the resort town while the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe is engaging more airlines to fly into Zimbabwe. British Airways/Comair, Ethiopian Airways, Fastjet, Kenya Airways, Air Namibia, SA Airlink, South African Airways and Air Zimbabwe fly into Victoria Falls.
Players in the tourism industry have commended the airlines for consistently flying into Victoria Falls, which they said has translated into positive business fortunes. Zimbabwe Council for Tourism regional representative, Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa said: “We had the second best January this year in 20 years mainly because all airlines have been consistent and coming in time while some have brought bigger planes. Without talking about passengers, in terms of business, we recorded 20 percent above previous similar periods.”
Mrs Murasiranwa said normally the first quarter was a low season but this year the industry did well.
“We attribute it to the number of airlines and we are excited that we are doing well. Normally it’s a low season but this year the low season was not very low,” she added.
Mrs Murasiranwa said the industry was excited by the developments at the airport in terms of figures and expected the positives to continue in the outlook period. Business Chronicle visited the airport on Thursday morning and spoke to Victoria Falls Airport manager Mr Ronnie Masawi who commended the airlines for diligently servicing their routes.
“The airlines have maintained operations and we have seen growth in the number of passengers. Since commissioning we have seen new airlines coming,” said Mr Masawi. He said the airport’s capacity utilisation had risen to 26 percent and the uptake of shops was almost 100 percent.
“The airlines, for example, Ethiopian Airways and SA Airlink have indicated they are flexible to bring wide bodied aircraft if numbers require that,” said Mr Masawi.
Fastjet has increased frequency in some of its routes while SA Airways last year launched a wide bodied 222-seater Airbus A330-200, replacing the 138-seater A320. Ethiopian Airways also introduced the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft recently, which will be occasionally flying into Victoria Falls to replace the B737-800 on its Addis Ababa-Victoria Falls-Gaborone route and return four times a week. The Kenya Airways (KQ) operate three times a week between Nairobi-Victoria Falls and Cape Town while SA Airlink flies between Victoria Falls and Cape Town.