Nothabo Nyathi in Victoria Falls
ETHIOPIAN Airways on Sunday landed its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft at the Victoria Falls International Airport as it celebrated its one year anniversary of flying into Zimbabwe.
The first B787 Dreamliner to land at Victoria Falls International Airport, the international airliner becomes the second carrier to operate a scheduled wide bodied aircraft to the popular resort town.
The giant aircraft was welcomed by a water canon salute when it landed here at 11:30AM in full view of scores of players in the tourism industry.
Ethiopian Airways started flying into Zimbabwe last year using a smaller aircraft, B737-800, and has seen an increase in passengers coming into the country, forcing it to introduce the B787 Dreamliner, which has more capacity. The airline’s traffic and sales manager, Mr Tilahun Alemayehu, said they have recorded an increase in passengers flying into the country.
“We have experienced an increase in the number of passengers whose destination will be Zimbabwe hence we decided to introduce the B787 Dreamliner. As a result of this increase, the Dreamliner will be flying into Zimbabwe on several days,” he said.
“It won’t be a daily flight meaning sometimes the B737-800 will be the one flying into the country depending on number of passengers.”
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) director for airports, Mr Tawanda Guzha, said the landing of the Dreamliner shows confidence in Zimbabwe as a tourism destination.
“The landing of the Dreamliner shows the growth we are experiencing within the tourism industry. We are excited about potential and indicative growth in the number of tourist arrivals. We want to continue to promote Zimbabwe as a destination of choice,” said Mr Guzha.
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism representative for Matabeleland North Province, Mrs Barbara Murasiranwa, said the increase in tourism arrivals was expected with the flying in of the Dreamliner. Ethiopian Airlines has been flying four times a week between Addis Ababa-Victoria Falls-Gaborone and return using a B737-800.
Only South Africa has been using a wide bodied aircraft, which was launched last year.