Zim’s open skies policy bearing fruit: Transport Minister

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Felix Mhona has said Zimbabwe’s open skies policy is bearing fruit as evidenced by the increase in flights into the country this year.

Mhona was speaking in Bulawayo Thursday during the ongoing end-of-year strategic plan workshop for his ministry.

Zimbabwe adopted and is applying the Yamoussoukro Decision which promotes the Open Skies Policy.

“As such, in our negotiations, Zimbabwe takes into consideration the 5th Freedom Traffic Rights, which allow for the movement of airlines from the country of origin to another country at the same time picking up passengers for their final destination,” said Mhona.

“The aim is to increase both domestic and international traffic. The sector registered some growth with airlines like Fastjet increasing frequencies and routes into the region. Furthermore, Victoria Falls International Airport is now connected to the European market with the coming in of Euro-Wings of Germany. Recently Ethiopian Airlines launched a new route to JM Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo en route to Victoria Falls. This is a testament of the success of our open-skies policy.”

Further, developments at the RGM International Airport, Mhona said, were progressing well.

“With the project over 80% complete now, I urge the responsible institutions and individuals to continue making tireless efforts towards finalisation of the project within the stipulated timelines,” he said.

“The project involves the expansion of the current apron areas to accommodate four more aerobridges to handle the longest and widest bodied aircraft, construction of new fire station, rehabilitation of existing apron, construction of the VVIP Pavilion, expansion of the International Terminal Building, rehabilitation of existing International Terminal Building, rehabilitation of Domestic Terminal Building and upgrading of equipment for passenger facilitation, check in counters, baggage handling equipment access control and installation of modern navigation equipment.”

He however said there were still outstanding projects such as Kariba, Buffalo Range, Hwange, Masvingo and Charles Prince Airports as well as construction of the control tower at J.M. Nkomo International Airport.

“Our realignment efforts should take these projects into consideration as they are key in increasing tourism and business in the country,” he said.

Mhona acknowledged all stakeholders for their supportive role in Zimbabwe winning the ICAO Council seat under Part III elections on 4 October 2022 in Montreal, Canada.

“The win was historic in that this is the first time for Zimbabwe to occupy that status in the ICAO Council,” he said.

“Indeed, the seat gives Zimbabwe the platform to contribute towards the shaping of global aviation standards going forward.”

He added: “We also need to re-double our efforts through the implementation of Bilateral Air Service Agreements between Zimbabwe and other States to encourage more airlines into Zimbabwe. I request my officials to take advantage of the International Conference Air Service Negotiation (ICAN) in December 2022, to negotiate possible agreements so as to increase the movement of air traffic in Zimbabwe.”

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