BRITISH Airways (Comair) and South Africa’s Airlink have confirmed their imminent return to Victoria Falls after suspending flights more than a year ago due to effects of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Comair has announced that it will resume daily return flights between Johannesburg in South Africa and Victoria Falls next week Thursday.
Although it has not given any exact date, SA Airlink has also indicated plans to resume flights between Cape Town and Victoria Falls soon.
An unnamed international airline is also reportedly set to launch maiden scheduled flights into Victoria Falls, according to close sources in the tourism and aviation sectors.
The tourism sector is buoyed by the return of airlines into Victoria Falls, a sign of confidence in destination Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe.
“This gives us hope for the revival of tourism as access is getting better by each day that passes even under the Covid-19 conditions. We even have a new airline flying into Victoria Falls linking the destination with Chobe destination in Botswana,” said Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza.
“The return of BA Comair on the 13th of May shows the confidence this major airline has on our destination and Airlink is also coming back linking Victoria Falls to Cape Town.”
He said these were major developments, which would help tourism industry return to life and save jobs that have been at stack since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Mr Musonza commended efforts by the Airports Company of Zimbabwe and the private sector to attract airlines and market the destination.
“Making sure these airlines have good load factors that make them sustainable is key and we can only hope for the best,” he said
Prior to Covid-19, Airlines that flew into Zimbabwe, particularly Victoria Falls, included ComAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airlines, Air Namibia, South African Airlines, SA Airlink, Air Zimbabwe and FastJet.
They all suspended flights last year owing to the Covid-19 lockdown travel restrictions. Currently local low-cost airline Fastjet and Africa’s largest airline group, Ethiopian Airlines, have been flying into the country’s prime resort destination until a new baby Mack Air of Botswana joined in on May 1.
The later launched its daily schedule flights between Victoria Falls and Kasane last Saturday, making the trend of seamless air travel more convenient between the two destinations.
Mack Air managing director Mr Michael Weyl yesterday said the load factor was about 40 percent with 80 percent of the airline’s clients going from Botswana to Zimbabwe, a sure sign of the airline boost to tourism in Victoria Falls.
Last year Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said there were interests from world airlines to fly into Victoria Falls following renovation of the facility, which can now handle wide bodied aircraft after expansion of its runway and terminal.
Rejuvenating the sector is at the heart of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, launched by President Mnangagwa last year to harness every tourism opportunity among other aims, towards growth of the sector and contributing to Vision 2030.
Victoria Falls has become the first Southern African city to roll out mass vaccination and reach herd immunity, making it the first world destination to commit to safety of travelers and residents.