German airline launches Victoria Falls flights
Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
GERMAN airline, Eurowings Discover of the Lufthansa Group, yesterday launched its scheduled flights between Frankfurt and Victoria Falls in a major boost for the local tourism sector.
The A330 airbus landed at the Victoria Falls International Airport just after 11:15am after a low fly past the airport and the majestic Victoria Falls gorges.
The airline will fly three scheduled return flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from Frankfurt to Victoria Falls via Windhoek in Namibia.
The inaugural flight comes exactly two years after Zimbabwe introduced the first lockdown on March 30, 2020.
Guest of honour, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Felix Mhona, said the launch was historic for the country.
Eurowings’ chief executive, Mr Wolfgang Raebiger, flew the airbus with a Zimbabwean flag hanging from the cockpit, indicative of the significance attached to the route.
The large plane was welcomed with a canon salute, ululation and whistling from scores of tourism industry stakeholders who thronged the airport to witness the return of Lufthansa to Zimbabwe, through the country’s tourism capital.
Passengers, mostly German special guests were carrying Zimbabwean flags and the crew and hostesses carried the inscription, “VFA” to mean destination Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls becomes Eurowings Discover’s fifth destination in Africa out of 24 that the airline is eyeing, and this has been attributed to growing passenger confidence on the country’s vaccination exercise.
“We are witnessing the landing of this magnificent bird at Victoria Falls Airport, which marks a major milestone to the connectivity of us here in Africa and Europe,” said Minister Mhona.
“This means a lot to us and in particular his Excellency President Mnangagwa, which is why we call him a listening President.
We have seen that since his coming on board, he has done major milestones in terms of achievement and in terms of engagement and re-engagement, which is a result of what we are witnessing today.
“We are bringing back the Zimbabwe that we know, even the airlines that used to fly into this country. It shows us the trajectory taken by the Second Republic is second to none. That engagement is actually bearing fruit.”
The minister said the direct flights to Victoria Falls by Eurowings were a sign of thawing relations between Zimbabwe and the world.
“We have all the natural wonders and beautiful sceneries. Either way people will still need to visit Zimbabwe,” he said.
Lufthansa used to be one of the major airlines that flew into Zimbabwe soon after 1980 and at independence German also gifted an aircraft to Zimbabwe, which became one of the planes used by Air Zimbabwe, according to Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president, Mr Wengai Nhau, who challenged the sector to complement interest by airlines by aggressively marketing the destination.
Minister Mhona also said the launch of the flight will positively impact on the development of tourism in Zimbabwe and the entire Kavango Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza).
The aviation sector contributes to the gross domestic product and creation of employment thereby contributing immensely to the attainment of the objectives of the National Development Strategy (NDS1).
“Zimbabwe treats the introduction of air services by Eurowings Discover as a seal of approval of local tourism destinations and bold endorsement of ease of doing business and promotion of investment policies in line with the country’s mantra, ‘Zimbabwe is open for Business’,” said the minister.
German Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Udo Volz, said the launch of the flight signifies strong bilateral relations between the two countries.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said the coming in of Eurowings was the beginning of a new era in tourism as Germany is second biggest source market for Zimbabwe’s tourism after UK.
Mr Raebiger said the airline was proud to be the first intercontinental airline to fly into Victoria Falls. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Dr David Musabayana, several heads of Government departments, tourism players and service chiefs witnessed the launch. — @ncubeleon