Air Zimbabwe yesterday successfully relaunched its Harare-Lusaka route which was discontinued in 2011. The airline will now fly three times weekly between Harare and Lusaka on Monday, Wednesday and Friday using the 50-seater MA60.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu said the launch, which was happening despite several operational challenges, will greatly improve the airline’s route networks.
“Certainly this move is a real game changer for the national airline and the travelling public.
“With scheduled integrity this is a potentially lucrative regional route. The resumption of the Lusaka flight today rekindles potential of not only just the business connections between the two countries but the spirit of African Aviation renaissance as alluded to in the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 and cements the country’s bilateral relations with our neighbour and friend, Zambia,” he said .
Dr Mpofu pledged his ministry’s continued support for Air Zimbabwe because of its strategic importance to national development through trade, tourism and regional integration.
“Evidence of Government’s commitment to supporting the air industry and the national airline is abundant and recently Government approved that a strategic partner be engaged as part of Air Zimbabwe’s turnaround strategy,” he said.
Transport Works Supply and Communications Minister for Zambia Yamfya Mukanga said the relaunch further cements the strong relations between Zimbabwe and Zambia which has existed since the colonial period.
Minister Mukanga said it was important that the route is fully supported by both Zimbabweans and Zambians to make it viable for the airline.
“We do not want to have a third relaunch.
“This is a challenge to you the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Zambian Tourism Board, you always target foreign tourists, why don’t you also look at our own people lets promote tourism among our own people,” he said.
He added that the launch had come at an opportune time when the Government was considering relaunching its own airline.
“We are challenged to reciprocate this gesture to have our own airline flying to Harare to complement Air Zimbabwe’s gesture,” he said.
Air Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Edmund Makona who characterised the return of Air Zimbabwe to Lusaka to a prodigal brother returning home said that the selection of Lusaka was a natural choice given the ties between the two countries.
“I want to say that this prodigal will need to be nourished,” he said.