from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – THE skies are opening up in Zimbabwe, with some major airlines set to resume flights to the country next month.
British Airways (BA) will resume flights to Victoria Falls on September 1.
South African Airways (SAA) which came out of business rescue recently, has announced that it will start flying into Harare and the region on September 23.
Both airlines suspended flights as a result of the COVID-19 induced lockdown, which restricted international travel.
Tickets for SAA are already on sale while the voyager bookings and Travel Credit Voucher redemption will be available from September 6.
“The wait is finally over. In just under a month, the striking and familiar livery of SAA will once again be visible in the skies as the airline resumes operations,” stated SAA chief executive, Thomas Kgokolo.
“After months of diligent work, we are delighted that SAA is resuming service and we look forward to welcoming on board our loyal passengers and flying the South African flag. We continue to be a safe carrier and adhering to COVID-19 protocols.”
The airline will start with flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra (Ghana), Kinshasa (DR Congo), Harare (Zimbabwe), Lusaka (Zambia) and Maputo (Mozambique).
More destinations will be added to the route network at a later stage, depending on the response to the market.
Kgokolo said there was enthusiasm ahead of take-off but he acknowledged challenges lay ahead.
“The aviation sector is currently going through a testing period, and we are aware of the tough challenges that lie ahead in the coming weeks. We thank South Africa for the support we have received in getting us to where we are today. As we are now poised for take-off, we see this as a major milestone for SAA and the country,” he added.
SAA came out of business rescue at the end of April and has been seized with planning for the re-launch.
“The airline is restarting with a formidable business case,” John Lamola, SAA board chair, said in the same statement.
SAA was one of the few airlines that were operating air buses into Victoria Falls, moving large volumes of tourists into the resort town.
Its and BA’s return comes as the Zimbabwe government reopens land borders into Victoria Falls for vaccinated tourists.
Restaurants have also been given the greenlight to allow sit-ins for vaccinated clients.
Godfrey Chris Koti, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority spokesperson, said the country’s tourism industry was excited about the return of airlines.
Emmanuel Tivatyi, Love for Africa representative, Africa said arrivals heralded a positive trend.
“Numbers are there to show that people are beginning to come back,” he said.
“We are really excited that flights like British Airways will be starting on the 1st of September and others like Kenyan Airways and Fastjet are still coming. This is confidence in destination Zimbabwe and the way the country handled COVID-19 at a global level communicated that we are very serious about it,” Tivatyi said.
More than 1,5 million people have been vaccinated, out of Zimbabwe’s population of 15 million.
– CAJ News