FLIGHTS in and out of Zimbabwe rose 7,87 percent to 26 905 in the nine months to September last year from 24 943 in the comparable year ago period, following the increased frequency of flights by Air Zimbabwe and the return of some airlines to the country’s airspace.According to the latest figures from ZimStat, the number of passengers flying in and out of Zimbabwe increased to 861 498 from 694 765, an increase of 24 percent from 2012.
A total 13 220 flights were in and out of the Harare International Airport, with a total of 633 400 passengers while Victoria Falls had 5 332 flights in and out with 158 534 passengers.
The number of total passengers are expected to pass the one million mark above the 1 002 267 passengers recorded in 2011.
In 2012, reduction in airline seat capacity following the suspension of flights by Air Zimbabwe towards the end of last year saw the number of flights in and out of Zimbabwe decline 8,99 percent last year.
Since dollarisation, a number of international airlines resumed flights to Zimbabwe growing business opportunities in the country and growing tourism activity.
The airlines that resumed flights into the country include Emirates, British Airlines, LAM of Mozambique, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Egypt Air.
A number of airlines are seeking to be licensed to fly in and out of the country, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, the country aviation regulator.
Many foreigners have been coming to Zimbabwe to make business equerries while the removal of travel bans and Zimbabwe’s win to co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly also boosted tourist arrivals.
Air Zimbabwe resumed domestic flights in November 2012 after securing a US$8,5 million bailout from Government.
Since then it has been on a major drive to reclaim lost market share through the introduction of service on most of its former routes.
This was after the national airline’s domestic market share had fallen to less than 5 percent in 2012, from over 10 percent in 2010 due to the grounding of its planes.
The airline has been operating flights between Harare and Bulawayo and Harare and Victoria Falls using a 50-seater Embraer and Boeing 737.
It also reintroduced flights between Harare and Johannesburg in May last year after leasing an A320 Airbus and managing to retire part of its debt mostly to South African creditors.
The leasing of the new aircraft has enabled Air Zimbabwe to save on costs and improve on viability as the new aircraft are not only fuel efficient and have a smaller carrying capacity which are more suited for the passenger numbers on its routes.
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo was re-opened last month after undergoing a major facelift.