Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
AIR Zimbabwe is expecting delivery of a new plane in the next three weeks, a development that will see it introducing evening domestic flights to Victoria Falls.
The flag carrier has been using one aircraft, a 767-200ER known as Chimanimani, to service domestic and regional routes.
The plane services the Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route daily in the morning and alternates between Johannesburg in South Africa and Dar es Salam in Tanzania four and two times a week respectively.
Speaking at a tourism all stakeholders’ conference attended by a cross-section of the industry known as Team Tourism held at the Hwange National Park on Saturday, Air Zimbabwe head of marketing Mr Tafadzwa Zaza said the new aircraft — a 737-200 with a capacity to carry 105 passengers — was expected within three weeks.
“Our schedules and frequencies are very limited and we are planning to increase our frequencies and offer better schedule to our customers,” he said. “In about two to three weeks’ time we have another aircraft that will be added to our fleet which means we will increase our schedules.”
Mr Zaza said the coming in of the other aircraft will mean the airline will be able to offer evening flights to the resort town.
Chimanimani departs Harare in the morning to Victoria Falls via Bulawayo and back to Harare the same morning.
The same aircraft departs Harare around 11am for Johannesburg four times a week and also flies to Dar-es-Salam two times a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays when there is no Johannesburg flight.
Mr Zaza was speaking while responding to concerns by the industry about the airline’s failure to stick to its flight schedule and poor communication strategies.
The stakeholders called for an attitude change at Air Zimbabwe if it was to regain public confidence.
They said it had become the norm for Air Zimbabwe to delay or cancel scheduled flights and not update customers in time, hence the need for a change of business culture.
Mr Zaza said the airline had been finding it difficult to operate with one aircraft.
“Because of that we are operating the domestic route only in the morning,” he said. “So, we came up with our schedule to operate the domestic routes early in the morning and connect to Joburg or Dar es Salam mid-morning from Harare.”
The Government, said Mr Zaza, was committed to recapitalising the national carrier as it had appointed an administrator to run its affairs.He said a detailed strategic document had been prepared, spelling out an operational strategy where the idea was to consolidate the domestic market before spreading to the regional and international markets.
The tourism industry has said it would lobby Government to recapitalise Air Zimbabwe so that it can ferry more tourists into the country.