Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
BRITISH Airways (Comair) and South Africa’s Airlink have confirmed their imminent return to Victoria Falls after suspending flights more than a year ago due to the effects of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Comair has announced that it will resume daily return flights between Johannesburg in South Africa and Victoria Falls next Thursday.
Although it has not given any exact date, SA Airlink has also indicated plans to resume flights between Cape Town and Victoria Falls soon.
The tourism sector is buoyed by the return of airlines into Victoria Falls, a sign of confidence in destination Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe.
“This gives us hope for the revival of tourism as access is getting better by each day under the Covid-19 conditions. We even have a new airline flying into Victoria Falls linking the destination with Chobe in Botswana,” said Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza.
He said the return of BA Comair on the 13th of May shows the confidence this major airline has in the destination Zimbabwe and what is also exciting is that Airlink is also coming back linking Victoria Falls to Cape Town.
Mr Musonza said these were major developments, which will help revive the tourism industry and save jobs that have been under threat since the outbreak of the pandemic.
He commended efforts by the Airports Company of Zimbabwe and the private sector to attract airlines through marketing the destination.
“Making sure these airlines have good load factors that make them sustainable is key and we can only hope for the best,” said Mr Musonza.
Prior to Covid-19, Airlines that flew into Zimbabwe, particularly Victoria Falls, included ComAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airlines, Air Namibia, South African Airlines, SA Airlink and FastJet.
They all suspended flights last year owing to the Covid-19 lockdown travel restrictions. Local low-cost airline Fastjet, Africa’s largest airline group, Ethiopian Airlines and Mack Air of Botswana, have since resumed flights into the country’s prime resort destination.
Mack Air launched its daily scheduled flights between Victoria Falls and Kasane last Saturday, making air travel more convenient between the two destinations.
The airline’s managing director Mr Michael Weyl yesterday said the load factor was about 40 percent with 80 percent of the airline’s clients coming from Botswana thereby boosting tourism in Victoria Falls.
Last year Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said many world airlines wanted to fly into Victoria Falls following renovation of the Victoria Falls Airport, which can now handle wide-bodied aircraft after expansion of its runway and terminal.
Rejuvenating the sector is at the heart of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, launched by President Mnangagwa last year to harness every tourism opportunity.
Victoria Falls was the first Southern African city to roll out mass vaccination and reach herd immunity, making it the first world destination to commit to safety of travellers and residents. — @ncubeleon.