Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT has commended the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) for the strides it has made in marketing the country as an attractive destination for airlines since its establishment almost three years ago.
ACZ is a state entity that was unbundled from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) in 2020 after the Transport and Infrastructural Development Ministry cited a conflict of interest as CAAZ ran operations and regulating the airports business on its own, against international best practice.
ACZ was mandated to make sure the country has a reliable safe world-class air transport infrastructure and services, increase the annual cargo handled from 15 000 tonnes in 2020 by 10 percent annually, and increase the number of passengers uplifted from 500 000 in 2020 to two million by the year 2025.
Acting Permanent Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development, Dr. Loveness Masuka-Dumwa, said Zimbabwe recently signed 10 bilateral air service agreements with different countries to open the skies for enhanced passenger and cargo services.
“As we sit here today and deliberate on the Annual Plan for ACZ, we are happy to note the growing number of airlines that now patronize our airports,” she said.
“Government is satisfied with the kind of achievements made by the Airports Company of Zimbabwe so far in terms of attracting airlines into our country and also increasing frequencies of airlines, which were already flying in.”
Dr Masuka-Dumwa said the achievement indicates that the ministry and its agencies were doing their part to transform the country’s vision into reality.
She was speaking on the sidelines of the ACZ strategic planning workshop in Victoria Falls on Sunday. The two-day workshop started on Sunday and ends today.
“In pursuit of these benefits, I am glad to inform you all that at the recently held International Civil Aviation Organization Negotiation forum (ICAN 2022), in Abuja, Nigeria, Zimbabwe negotiated 10 Bilateral Air Services Agreements; six compliant BASAs with African countries, three with European countries and one with an Asian country,” said Dr. Masuka-Dumwa.
The agreements will entail free use of space between countries and this will also deepen relations between the two countries.
“This is testimony that Zimbabwe is really open for business and what we are going to see is the incoming of other airlines and also focus on preparation to fly into other countries,” she said.
Dr Masuka-Dumwa said in light of outstanding projects, there was a need for ACZ to consider pursuing other innovative project financings strategies such as Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs) and mobilization of funds from local financial institutions.
Speaking at the same occasion, ACZ board chair Mr Devnanda Popatlal said more work is underway to upgrade airports across the country and improve connectivity. Besides upgrading the RG Mugabe International Airport in Harare and JM Nkomo in Bulawayo, ACZ is also undertaking several other projects in Mutare and Binga, among others.
“If we can build good infrastructure say in Mutare, it will lead to more development of the Beira Corridor and link Mozambique with Zimbabwe in a much faster efficient way and that can encourage our business community not to waste too long traveling by road. This will also ensure the security of people.
“As for Binga, that is a very interesting place with a tourism interest and if we manage through our strategy to implement this program in the shortest time we will have more movement with neighboring countries,” said Mr Popatlal. [email protected]
Article Source: The Chronicle