Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT has been inundated by inquiries from regional and international airlines who are eager to fly into Zimbabwe following the re-opening of the skies.
Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, said this during a tour of Victoria Falls International Airport on Saturday. He was accompanied by Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu on a tour of the country’s international airports, which included Victoria Falls, Joshua Mqabuko in Bulawayo and Robert Gabriel Mugabe in Harare. The facilities are ready to receive airlines and travellers after putting in place necessary Covid-19 preventive measures.
“There were quite a number of calls from other players and airlines besides Air Zimbabwe and Fastjet, which are here and have been grounded. Added to that, we have other international airlines like Emirates, Kenyan, Ethiopian and others from the Americas who wanted to come and were asking when we are opening.
“Our international airports are now Covids-19 compliant and port health ready to screen travellers using international standards,” said VP Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health and Child Welfare.
“We have inspected RG Mugabe in Harare and JM Nkomo in Bulawayo. The re-opening of international airports is part of a phased approach to the re-opening of all airports. Our major areas of focus have been availability and provision of personal protective equipment for frontline workers at airports, evacuation strategy for ill patients, installation of infra-red scanners, banner and footbaths because we need to ensure that our airports are compliant with World Health Organisation guidelines.”
Airlines that flew into Zimbabwe, particularly Victoria Falls prior to Covid-19 included British Airways (ComAir), Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airlines, Air Namibia, South African Airlines, SA Airlink, Air Zimbabwe and FastJet.
There has been interest from other world class airlines to fly into Victoria Falls following renovation of the facility a few years ago. The airport can now handle wide bodied aircraft after expansion of its runway and terminal.
The country recently launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy whose thrust is to harness every tourism opportunity among other aims, towards growth of the sector. VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe has managed to control the Covid-19 pandemic hence the country found it necessary to re-open the economy.