NEW AIRPORT FOR KARIBA . . . move to boost tourism
Kariba Municipality has availed land to Government for the construction of a new airport that is expected to boost tourism in the prime destination.
Speaking after visiting Kariba Airport last Friday, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Joram Gumbo said locations for new airports have already been identified in Beitbridge and Mutare. He, however, said moving the current airport to a new site depended on an exponential increase in traffic to the destination.
The current airport cannot be expanded as it lies between power lines and a gorge.
“Basically we are trying to improve connectivity so that one can fly from Kariba to Buffalo Range and see Gonarezhou National Park, fly to Mutare and go to Hwange using small planes.
“We are giving ourselves a target to build new airports and also acquire small planes,” he said.
Minister Gumbo said Government was working on an integrated air transport network that will bring convenient travel between Zimbabwe’s tourism destinations.
He said the programme, which will see the construction of new airports and upgrading of existing ones is aimed at improving air connectivity and subsequently lead to reduction in travel costs.
“We want to ensure that we have smaller planes that carry up to 100 passengers to travel to Kariba and fly to Hwange working with Air Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We can have a situation where people come to Harare and drop off in Kariba, proceed to Victoria Falls or Hwange. We want planes to criss-cross the country so that we promote tourism.”
Minister Gumbo said tourism has great potential to improve revenue and also promote downstream industries.
Improved air connectivity, he said, will help even legislators to travel for Parliament business.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) executive Mr David Chaota said the Kariba Airport can be upgraded to meet international standards.
Kariba Airport is operating at below 20 percent of its capacity and there is need for concerted effort to improve traffic flow.
“If the airport is spruced up then we expect more movement and traffic. Currently, activities such as hunting and those travelling for business are very low. Lack of activity led to low attention in terms of maintenance,” he said.
Mr Chiota said Kariba Airport was an entry point into Zimbabwe which should have customs and excise services, but currently that is not the case.
“It is currently operating at below 20 percent of its capacity. There is need for marketing from all angles to improve traffic,” he said
The Kariba Airport, he said, was too small and cannot accommodate bigger planes hence the need to upgrade the runway.