By Daniel Chigundu
VICE President Constantino Chiwenga has called on the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry and Tourism to put their efforts together and ensure they attract new airlines to the country.
Since the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe has witnessed a decrease in the number of airlines that pass through the country with such airlines as British Airways dumping the destination for various reasons.
Air transport is arguably an important factor in as far as increasing statistics of arrivals is of concern as it is the only logical mode of transport available for tourists from across the many seas.
Addressing delegates at the official opening of the 108th edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo in Bulawayo, Vice President Chiwenga said there is need to open the skies and allow aviation to play its catalytic role.
“On air transport, I would to challenge the ministry of transport, tourism, to work closely and bring in new airlines from all over the world. We must open up our skies if aviation is to play its catalytic role in the development t of this economy.
“On the domestic front we have opened up the domestic airspace for other players and we have seen new airlines come competing in our domestic routes.
“As a nation we are aware that we can improve destination accessibility if we transform our own national airline (Air Zimbabwe) into an efficient and vibrant entity that can compete with any other carrier,” he said.
Air Zimbabwe has been failing to operate efficiently due to debt overhang and lack of foreign currency to acquire spare parts among many other reasons.
There is a general fear that if government proceeds to open the skies, Air Zimbabwe will pay the price as it will not be able to compete.
According to Chiwenga, opening of skies is meant to help the country in getting ready for future competitions.
“Therefore the issues is not to attract competition but to make ourselves ready for that competition, indeed with open skies complement by open borders, Zimbabwe tourism sector will be poised for growth and development for the benefit of the economy”.