The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has says it is pursuing new Air Services Agreements (ASAs) to increase the number of airlines flying into the country.
CAAZ director-general Elijah Chingosho told NewsDay Business that 60 ASAs have been signed since independence in 1980.
“Since attaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has negotiated over 60 ASAs with States in Africa, Asia Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere,” Chingosho said.
“The authority continues to seek additional States with which to set up ASAs. Zimbabwean skies are open to airlines from all corners of the world.
This is also in line with the dictates of the Single African Air Transport Market of which Zimbabwe is among the 11 founding members, where the authority is working towards ensuring that all ASAs are Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) compliant.”
Chingosho said YD in 1999 sought to open up African skies to eligible African operators including granting fifth Freedom Traffic rights to help facilitate better inter- and intra-connectivity within Africa and with the rest of the world.
The CAAZ boss said airport infrastructure upgrades would attract major airlines into the country.
After completing the US$150 million Victoria Falls International Airport upgrade in 2016, Zimbabwe has extended the programme to other airlines.
The Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare is in the final stages of a major revamp.
Major international airlines with frequencies into Zimbabwe include Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Eurowings Discovery and others.
Key regional airlines servicing the country include Airlink and Kenya Airways.
Aviation players had predicted that air passenger numbers into Zimbabwe’s airports would rise above pre-pandemic levels this year, as traffic improves in the aftermath of hard lockdowns globally.
Chingosho said the number of international and local airlines servicing Zimbabwean destinations would rise by 80% compared to 2019 when the carriers moved 1,5 million people.
This represents a growth of almost three million passengers this year, a big positive trajectory for an industry that was battered by pandemic curbs at the height of the COVID-19 scourge between 2020 and 2021.
Airlines carried 430 000 and 740 000 respectively during the two years, according to CAAZ data.
The CAAZ boss said Zimbabwe’s performance was expected to better African averages this year.
However, across the continent, the outlook would be positive, he said.