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Turkish Airlines executives jet into Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter
27 May 2016 at 09:26hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT says one of the global airlines it is courting to operate direct flights into Victoria Falls will send a delegation to Harare next month to appraise themselves of the route.

The Victoria Falls International Airport, which is nearing completion of a US$150 million expansion financed by Chinese banks, has kicked off the search for airlines from key tourist markets to operate scheduled flights and boost tumbling tourist arrivals.

At the heart of the crisis rocking the tourism industry has not only been bad publicity and poor marketing, but the absence of direct flights into one of Africa's biggest tourist attractions.

The cash-strapped government has resolved this by pouring millions into the development of the airport.

Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Annastasia Ndlovu, told an International Air Travel Association conference in the resort town last week that the country had moved a gear up in marketing the new facility, with positive discussions with global airlines.

"We are talking to airlines such as Turkish Airlines," said Ndlovu in a presentation to the global aviation industry conference.

"A delegation from Turkish airlines will be coming to Zimbabwe next month. We have taken steps to make sure that Victoria Falls Airport is not a white elephant," she said.

Transport Minister, Joram Gumbo, agreed.

"We are courting a number of airlines (to fly directly into Victoria Falls)," said Gumbo.

Issues likely to come under the spotlight with the Turkish delegation include high costs of utilising African airports including Zimbabwe, which have become one of the biggest barriers to attracting global airlines.

Industry statistics indicate that airlines landing into Zimbabwe's airports pay far higher than what they pay elsewhere on the continent and in Europe.

Reports say government has also been discussing with Emirates.

The Victoria Falls International Airport has reached final stages of the multi-million dollar facelift.

Its runway has been expanded to four kilometres from 1,5 kilometres, allowing it to accommodate long haul jets and increasing the number of foreign passengers it could handle per annum by threefold to 1,2 million and up to 500 000 domestic travellers.

Last year, a tourism industry executive said his company, Legacy Hotels and Resorts, which concluded a multimillion dollar management contract with African Sun Limited, had been assured that arrivals would boom, riding on interest by global carriers to operate scheduled flights into Victoria Falls.

Legacy chairman, Bart Dorrestein, said Brainworks Capital, which controls 57 percent shareholding in Zimbabwe's largest hotel chain, had told him that Turkish Airlines and Emirates were already on board.

The two were among several leading airlines that the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and local tourism sector players have been targeting.

Emirates is already operating daily flights into Harare from Dubai while Turkish Airlines, which says it has the world's fourth largest flight network with 221 flight destinations in 98 countries, would be making its maiden appearance into the country.

The introduction of more flights into the resort town would improve accessibility for foreign tourists, riding on their extensive global networks.

Emirates operates over 1 800 weekly flights from its hub at Dubai International Airport, with a fleet of modern and efficient all-wide body aircraft, into 144 cities in 81 countries.

The big carriers will serve as a vital artery routing Western tourists and travellers from other markets into Zimbabwe without having to go through the burden of switching airlines.

This is projected to boost arrivals from markets such as England, which is not served by direct flights from Zimbabwe.

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Source - fingaz

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