Call to improve air accessibility

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THE Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development says the country is on a drive to lure more new airlines into the country in a bid to increase capacity utilisation of the country’s airports.
This year, the country has witnessed the coming on board of Rwanda Air into Harare, Kenyan Airways and Ethiopian Airlines introducing direct flights into Victoria Falls and South African Airlink introducing the Cape Town-Victoria Falls Route.
The efforts are also meant to complement the tourism industry, which is presently engaged in a massive destination awareness campaign in various markets across the world.
One of the calls by the industry has been to make the country an accessible destination.
In that regard, former Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently made calls to grant free landing rights to various airlines to increase the country’s accessibility.
The Transport Ministry told The Patriot numerous strategies and incentives have been crafted to lure more airlines into the country.
“A number of incentives are being proffered to attract different airlines. These include reduced navigation, landing and parking fees, discounted for the first year of operation to enable the airline to be established on the new route,” said the Transport Ministry in a statement.
“Existing airlines are also increasing their frequencies in response to increased demand. The situation is quite positive for the country, thus recording an average 10 percent increase in passengers, and the ministry is confident that more airlines will be coming into the country going forward.”
The country has refurbished its major airports, bringing them to world class standards.
“This positive drive is due to our improved infrastructure following the completion of new airport facilities at Victoria Falls International Airport. The country is also engaged in the progressive liberalisation of the air transport, thus attracting new airlines,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, Christinah Dzivaguru, an aviation expert, said authorities had to find ways to help local players get into the aviation industry.
While the indigenes have penetrated major facets of the economy as a result of the Government Economic Empowerment Programme, they are yet to make a mark in the aviation industry.
“For instance, the Government needs to reduce its stake in the national airline and let the public buy shares so that capital can be raised given that the airline business is capital intensive,” Dzivaguru said.
According to the Ministry of Transport, one of the strategies being employed to revive the national flag carrier is engagement of a strategic partner.
A number of airlines and private companies are reportedly interested in partnering the airline.
Participation of foreign airlines is expected to complement the services offered by the national carrier and not push it out of business.
There are opportunities for these airlines to enter into various partnerships with the national airline.
Essays Woldermiriam, managing director of Ethiopian Airlines which is Africa’s top airline at the moment, said his organisation’s success was steeped in its continual re-assessment of its strategies.‘In 1945, Ethiopian Airlines was established with the aim of bringing Africa together. And this endeavour has been successful for seven decades and we are now linking Africa to the world,” said Woldermiriam.
“Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best fleets…our ‘youngest’ planes are four years old. We have even brought the dreamliner to Africa…so that we encourage buyers to bring as many tourists to Africa as possible.
“Zimbabwe has a culture and history which we are promoting to the world, to our large network. We invite fliers to come to Africa and Zimbabwe (sic).”
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the aviation industry have been urged to put more effort in protecting the environment.
While there are such instruments such as ICAO Annex 16 Environmental Protection which guard against fuel spillages, carbon dioxide emissions and noise, among other environmentally degrading elements, more still needs to be done.
Even though it is argued that modern planes like the Airbus A330, Boeing 737-800, 787 and 747-8 are equipped with engines whose emissions pose no harm or threat to the environment, it does not stop people from suffering as every kilogramme of weight a plane carries increases the amount of fuel that it burns, hence more toxic waste into the environment.
Overflying aircraft emit carbon dioxide (CO2) from their engines and other petrochemical by-products such as hydrocarbons which are major pollutants of the atmosphere and environment.
It has also been noted that vibrations caused by aircraft with high landing weight as they apply reverse thrust cause nearby building structures to suffer structural deformations.
The landing area required by aircraft with high landing weight also infringes in areas reserved for natural habitats like natural water reservoirs.

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