In a recent statement, the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) revealed that the country’s airports are operating at a mere 27% capacity, indicating significant underutilization. ACZ’s Chief Executive Officer, Tawanda Gusha, expressed concerns over the low levels of airport usage and emphasized the need to address this issue to attract more visitors to the country.
In an interview with NewsDay, Gusha provided further insights into the situation:
“We are currently operating at about 27% of capacity. But it varies from airport to airport. At this airport (Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport), we are operating at about 47% of capacity. But there are other airports which are operating at very low capacity. Capacity utilization is an issue we have been working on to bring more traffic into the country.”
To tackle this challenge, ACZ has devised a strategic plan to collaborate with Cape Town Tourism on a comprehensive marketing campaign.
By leveraging Cape Town Tourism’s expertise and experience, ACZ aims to enhance tourism and, consequently, increase airport usage. Gusha elaborated on the collaboration:
“At its launch recently, we managed to sign a memorandum of understanding with Cape Town Tourism. We will be doing joint marketing with Cape Town Tourism, which is miles ahead of us. So we stand to benefit a lot from that.
That is an opportunity we will take to bring more traffic into the country. We will increase our capacity utilization in the airports.”
Moreover, ACZ is actively involved in the Zimbabwe Destination Program, a collaborative initiative led by the Transport and Infrastructure Development and Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry ministries.
This program, in cooperation with the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, aims to boost tourism and improve the overall destination experience.
As part of this endeavor, a destination management organization named “We Are Victoria Falls” has been established in Victoria Falls, with input from all relevant stakeholders.
In addition to the marketing campaign, ACZ has outlined plans to expand cargo traffic by developing horticulture and light manufacturing facilities near airports.
This expansion will lead to the creation of a dedicated cargo terminal building at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Gusha emphasized the significance of these efforts in increasing airport capacity utilization.
To further promote air traffic, ACZ intends to collaborate with aviation industry stakeholders, as well as the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank.
These partnerships aim to attract more airlines and visitors to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, JM Nkomo Airport, and Victoria Falls Airport.
According to the International Air Transport Association, the recovery of passenger numbers in Africa is expected to be gradual, with levels reaching 76% of 2019 figures by 2022 and returning to pre-COVID-19 levels by 2025.
In line with this projection, Victoria Falls International Airport has plans to construct a catering facility and an airport hotel, with estimated costs of US$10 million and US$15 million, respectively.