THE new $150 million Victoria Falls International Airport which is set to change the face of the resort town is just four months away from opening, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has confirmed.
BY CHARLES LAITON
According to CAAZ, the new airport which has the capacity to accommodate 1,7 million passengers per year — more than three times the current number, was set to be completed at the end of September this year. The organisation said the finishing touches such as electrical and navigational fittings, were now being put in place on the new 4km runway, which will be capable of landing the world’s largest passenger aircraft. The existing runway will become a taxiway.
Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) chief executive Ross Kennedy said the new airport would transform the resort town’s landscape.
“The positive impact of the new Victoria Falls International Airport is still a long way from being measured, but the trade is excited at the potential of long haul direct routes, instead of via Johannesburg,” Kennedy said.
“The potential impact on tourism in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and the region is huge. Simple arithmetic shows that just three wide-bodied jets a week will make a dramatic positive impact to the destination.
“This includes, of course, employment as occupancies rise and all of the downstream benefits that this will bring with it.”
Kennedy said the airport would also create its own “mini economy” with increased staffing throughout and support facilities — which included more duty-free and retail space, as well as new restaurants and coffee shops.
The new international terminal building, CAAZ said, was nearing completion, while the existing one would be converted into a domestic terminal.
The aviation authority said a new control tower with state-of-the-art equipment was nearing completion and work had begun on the construction of a fire station. The aircraft parking area was also being extended and a new car park built to accommodate 400 vehicles, as well as provide for long-term parking.
The airport is used by Air Zimbabwe, South African Airways, BA Comair, Air Namibia, Fly Africa and charter flights, and it was hoped commercial airlines would increase flight frequency to the iconic destination.
It was also anticipated British Airways, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates, Kenya Airways, Fast Jet and Air Botswana would introduce the Victoria Falls route to their flight itineraries.