The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Airport Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) has reaffirmed its commitment to growing the aviation sector, with its business drive and on-route development programmes luring more airlines into the country.
ACZ said it was looking forward to become the regional choice of airport services by 2030 and part of that commitment was through investing in infrastructural development while maintaining environmental sustainability.
In an interview, ACZ Public Relations and Communications Manager, Mr Tonderai Mangombe said through their business development drive, they were putting emphasis on luring new airlines and expanding the current route network.
“As a result of improved international relations and all-inclusive participation in the attainment of the mantra: Zimbabwe is open for business, ACZ embarked on a business development drive, which put emphasis on luring new airlines and expanding current route network.
“ACZ is committed to the growth of aviation business, which has seen us putting emphasis on route development programmes meant to lure airlines into the country, as well as route network expansion by existing airlines,” he said.
“To complement the route development programmes, ACZ has been collaborating with the tourism and investment sector in destination marketing endeavors. Resultantly, there has been a remarkable growth in air services in the country.”
He said in 2021, Qatar Airways, MackAir and LAM Mozambique launched services to Zimbabwe.
While, in 2022, there were new airlines and new routes as Eurowings Discover launched its Frankfurt-Victoria Falls route and Ethiopian Airlines launched its Addis Ababa-Bulawayo route.
Mr Mangombe said Airlink launched its Durban-Harare route and Fastjet launched its Kruger Mpumalanga-Victoria Falls route.
“This year, 2023, ACZ has already celebrated new airlines coming into Zimbabwe; Cemair, Royal Eswatini and Zambia Airways. Fastjet also launched its Hwange and Kariba routes. Safair will be launching services to Harare and Victoria Falls, connecting from South Africa. While, there are ongoing engagements with a number of airlines on the possibility of establishing more air services to ACZ’s airport network,” he added.
In terms of infrastructural development, Mr Mangombe said they were continuously upgrading airports and equipment.
He said ACZ embarked on a Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport rehabilitation and expansion project, which was completed, and the new state-of-the-art facility will compete regionally and globally.
Mr Mangombe said: “Buffalo Range International Airport runway rehabilitation project was completed in 2021, after it’s terminal building was rehabilitated in 2016 through a private-public partnership arrangement. Charles Prince Airport construction of the ICT recovery room and offices were completed in 2022. While, Hwange National Park Airport is currently being refurbished and expected to be complete by December 2023.”
He said plans were at an advanced stage for the refurbishment of Kariba Airport and long-term plans were also in place for three more airports namely Beitbridge, Gweru and Mutare.
Mr Mangombe said in terms of environmental sustainability, as ACZ they understand their role in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from aviation-based activities.
“The company has taken the important step to join the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACI) and the work to map and report a baseline of CO2 emissions from services and operations commenced.”
Mr Mangombe said the key measures were particularly improving aviation training and management.
“Airport infrastructure improvements saw incandescent lights having been replaced by energy-saving LED lights with motion sensors in active parts of the terminal buildings. Similarly, halogen runway and taxiway lights have been replaced by LEDs at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and JM Nkomo International Airports. In addition, several airport shuttles are 100 percent electric, with the remainder being either hybrid vehicles or small-engine capacity vehicles,” he said.
“ACZ has opened a tender inviting “Expression of Interest” for the Development and Operation of Solar Farms at Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Victoria Falls and JM Nkomo International Airports.”
He said plans for solar farms include the installation of three photovoltaic (PV) plants at Robert Gabriel Mugabe, JM Nkomo and Victora Falls International Airports, with the capacity to generate 10 megawatt (MW), 5MW, and 10 MW, respectively.
Mr Mangombe said currently, the maximum demand for Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was 1.1MW and is expected to increase to more than 2MW with the completed expansion project.
“Power demand at JM Nkomo International Airport is around 0.3MW and 0.5MW for Victoria Falls International Airport. All three solar farms are planned to cover current and near future needs of power demands. Surplus power will then be linked to the national grid.”