Zimbabwe registers growth in flights

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ZIMBABWE recorded a 4,5% growth to 15 602 in flights coming in and out of the country during the first half of the year, aided mainly by the resumption of domestic and regional flights by Air Zimbabwe, latest figures from Zimbabwe Statistical Office reveal.

Report by Gamma Mudarikiri

The increase in flights was also buoyed by the return of foreign airlines to the country’s airspace, which saw the number of passengers flying in and out of Zimbabwe surging to 503 309 up from 433 105 recorded in the same period last year, representing a positive growth of 6,2%.

A total of 14 airlines are currently landing in Zimbabwe, including Botswana Airways, South African Airways, Air Namibia, Egyptian Airways and Emirates, which have contributed to the marginal increase in flights and passengers.

Last year the number of flights in and out of the country declined to 33 062 from 36 326 achieved in the previous year after Air Zimbabwe had suspended flights largely due to crippling debts.

The national carrier’s Boeing 767-200 was impounded at London’s Gatwick International Airport over a debt of $1,2 million.

Air Zimbabwe is riddled with debt of over $100 million and has suffered a massive plunge in market share to 0,7% in 2012, from 8,8% in 2011.

However, the national airline bounced back in November last year as part of measures to expand its market.

It recently introduced a 150-seater fly-by-wire mid-range Airbus A320 on its Johannesburg route.

Another 50-seater Embracer jet on its domestic routes was introduced as part of efforts to regain market share.

Air Zimbabwe recently told Southern Eye that its passenger patronage per flight had increased to between 90% and 95% courtesy of its on-going promotion which has seen a reduction in airfares by more than half.

In July, Air Zimbabwe reduced fares for its local and regional flights by as much as 60% as part of efforts to regain the market share it had lost during the time it was grounded.

A Harare-Bulawayo return ticket was reduced to $105 from $300, while a Harare-Victoria Falls return ticket is now $180, down from $421.

A Bulawayo-Johannesburg return and Harare-Johannesburg route now costs $275 down from $420 while one-way tickets for Harare-Bulawayo, Harare-Victoria Fall and Harare-Johannesburg were reduced to $61, $140 and $150 respectively.

The promotion will be running until end of September.

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