Columbus Mabika recently in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
Air Zimbabwe yesterday resumed Harare-Johannesburg flights in a move expected to boost economic activity in the country.
Flights are scheduled for every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The development comes after Air Zimbabwe resumed a triangular four times a week Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls routes in June, for the first time since January last year after stopping commercial flights, apart from charter operations, due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
The resumption of the Harare-Johannesburg route, which is also expected to pave way for the resumption of intercontinental flights starting with Beijing and followed by London, feeds into the Government’s agenda of attaining an upper middle income economy by 2030.
Prior to this resumption, Air Zimbabwe had been plying the Harare-Dar es Salaam route.
Air Zimbabwe interim board chair Mr Andrew Bvumbe yesterday said the resumption was a major boost to their operations.
“We need to ensure that as an airline, we need to be up there in the sky,” he said.
“Regionally, we don’t need to be grounded, we are very happy with this relaunch as it is important for every Zimbabwean and the travelling public.
“We are very delighted that this is something we are calling ‘Air Zimbabwe is back in the air’ and we are there to face the completion. So we are here to provide the most efficient and effective airline, also keeping to our times as we fly.”
Mr Bvumbe said as part of the capitalisation programme, the interim board in liaison with Air Zimbabwe’s administrator Mr Reggie Saruchera, had adopted a five-year business plan that will drive the organisation forward.
“As of now, we have cleared off Air Zimbabwe’s debts that include the airports, and other creditors who were providing services to us,” he said.
“So, I can confirm we have paid everyone. We have also looked at the structure of the airliner in terms of its suitability, fit for business in terms of staffing.
“As you know, one of the biggest challenges was overstaffing but now after the reconstruction, we have cut staff to the right size and we are looking at just over 290 workers in total.”
The interim board is also looking forward to restoring relations with the International Air Transport Association IATA.
Tourism players are excited at the resumption of Harare-Johannesburg flights.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority executive director international marketing, Mr Jeffreys Manjengwa, told reporters at O.R. Tambo International Airport in South Africa that it was important to have planes in the skies to keep people in their jobs, boosting trade and tourism.
“This recommencement of regional flights is a step in the right direction towards boosting tourism which has for the last one year plus, been negatively affected by the pandemic,” he said.
Wenhau Safaris Advisory Group founder Mr Wengai Nhau said: “I am glad to note this progress that we are making as a destination in attracting tourists from different markets. This resumption indicates the country’s preparedness in the face of this pandemic which has wreaked havoc across many business sectors. This is a shot in the arm for the country’s tourism industry.”
Air Zimbabwe remains alive to the threat of Covid-19 infection and will continue to ensure strict adherence to all prevention protocols as guided by the IATA, World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health and Child Care, for the safety of both the passengers and crew members.