South African Airways (SAA) became the first airline to fly a wide-bodied plane to Victoria Falls, declaring it would bring a bigger aircraft if demand increases.
BY Ndamu Sandu
The A330-200 plane landed at 12:30pm and returned with 188 passengers. It has a capacity of 222 passengers. Before the introduction, SAA was flying smaller planes with a capacity of 150 passengers.
SAA country manager, Winnie Muchanyuka said the introduction of a bigger plane was because the airline sees potential in the resort town and a culmination of marketing efforts by tourism players and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
She said all the players have to keep that momentum going, “we need to see the bird coming everyday”.
“There is an A340 which has to come to Victoria Falls.”
Muchanyuka paid tribute to ZTA and industry players for marketing the destination.
“If the industry had not spend money marketing their businesses, this would not have happened,” she said.
“Africa is where our growth strategy is. Victoria Falls is on our map for growth.”
Muchanyuka said it was “every country manager, who operates short haul flights to have passengers that use wide-bodied aicrafts”.
ZTA chief operating officer officer, Givemore Chidzidzi said the coming in of a bigger plane addresses accessibility, which is critical in destination marketing.
He said the resort town had about 2 000 available rooms and until “we get more arrivals than the rooms we have, we will not rest”.
The introduction of a wide-bodied aircraft comes after the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe undertook a $150 million upgrade at Victoria Falls Airport to be able to handle more wide-bodied planes and more passengers.
The airport now has an aircraft parking area with a capacity to park three wide-bodied aicraft in the mould of B747s or equivalent.
Its handling capacity has now trebled to 1,5 passengers per annum.
The upgrade has sparked renewed interests from continental airlines. Ethiopian Airlines will introduce four weekly flights starting on March 26. Kenyan Airways will introduce three weekly flights between Nairobi and Victoria Falls on May 18. The Victoria Falls operation will be linked to Cape Town