Source: New local commercial airline – Sunday News Jan 1, 2017
A NEW commercial airline, Rainbow Airlines is set to hit the skies this month as Government moves to improve the investment climate, which include a proposed US$150 million face-lift of the Harare International Airport, begin to bear fruits.
A wholly-owned Zimbabwean company, Rainbow Airlines will commence its first flights on 25 January servicing the Harare-Johannesburg and Harare-Victoria Falls routes after it was granted the requisite licences.
At the same time Government is negotiation for a U$150 million loan with a Chinese investor to uplift the Harare International Airport and transform it into one of the top airports in Africa.
The airline, which has previously attempted to hit the skies without success was granted the go-ahead to operate by the Civil Aviation Authority Zimbabwe last month. In an interview yesterday, Rainbow Airlines chief executive Mr Ed Berry said the company had decided to invest in Zimbabwe because the climate was ripe for investment.
“Contrary to what people have been saying, Zimbabwe’s climate is very good for investment. The tourism sector is growing and Government has been putting in a lot of effort in addressing reforms on the ease of doing business,” he said.
Mr Berry lauded the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development for creating the enabling environment to allow the company to operate.
“I must commend the Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority for the swift nature with which they managed to facilitate the processes,” he said.
“The CAAZ maintains standards equal to, or higher than those required by the International Aviation Authorities. ”During the AOC certification process Rainbow Airlines was required by CAAZ to go through the five- phase inspection process-being pre-application, formal application, document evaluation, demonstration, inspection and finally certification.”
Asked if the airline would be able to stand the heat in the competitive industry, which has seen airlines such as Fly Africa falling by the wayside, Mr Berry said his company was in for the long haul.
“We are pretty confident of our capabilities. Our aircraft will be the 50 seater Bombardier CRJ100 aircraft within the first four months of operation, to assist in servicing the increased routes and frequencies.”
He said the airline would be flying more routes outside the region to earn foreign currency for the country.
“We are hoping that once we have established ourselves we can add other routes like Harare to Nairobi, Harare to Lubumbashi, Harare to Kinshasa, Harare to Durban, Bulawayo to Johannesburg and Harare to Beira and Maputo.”
Speaking to our Harare Bureau last week, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said Government was finalising negotiations for the face-lift of the Harare International Airport.