Global Airlines Eye Vic Falls Route

Turkish Airlines and Emirates could be the first international airlines to agree to operate flights into Victoria Falls on completion of the US$150 million expansion of the facility. The Victoria Falls International Airport is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift and expansion, which is due to be completed at the end of this month.

Emirates is already operating daily flights into Harare from Dubai while Turkish Airlines, which says it has the world's fourth largest flight network with 221 flight destinations in 98 countries, would be making its maiden appearance into the country.

The introduction of more flights into the resort town would improve accessibility for foreign tourists, riding on their extensive global networks.

The big carriers will serve as a vital artery routing Western tourists and travellers from other markets into Zimbabwe without having to go through the burden of switching airlines.

This is projected to boost arrivals from markets such as England, which is not served by direct flights from Zimbabwe.

Arrivals from Britain and Ireland declined by eight percent in 2014 to 38 600.

The Asian markets, which have been affected by connectivity hurdles, suffered a combined 19 percent retreat to 42 800 in 2014, from 52 900 in 2013.

In Zimbabwe, operators have been repositioning businesses in the resort town.

For instance, Africa Albida Tourism, proprietors of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, has announced new strategies to expand in Zimbabwe's prime leisure destination ahead of the projected boom in tourist numbers.

The boom will be supported by the upgrade of Victoria Falls International Airport, which it hopes would be a game changer.

"British Airways, Ethiopian Airways, Qatar and Emirates are involved in one way or another in exploring options to fly into Victoria Falls," said chief executive officer and Atta Chair Ross Kennedy.

"We have to market the fact that we have a brand new international airport to the airlines that want to fly into Victoria Falls. We have set aside resources to assist the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe in that effort."

Source: eTN