PLAYERS in the helicopter sector in Victoria Falls lost business worth over $500 000 in February due to heavy rains, leading to cancellation of flights.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
“From the beginning of February 2018, Victoria Falls was very wet because of excessive rains. The clouds were low hanging. As such, operations of helicopters from the Zambian and Zimbabwean side were suspended,” Employers’ Association for Tourism and Safari Operators president and Shearwater Adventures spokesperson, Clement Mukwasi, said.
“As a destination, we lost quite a lot of business, as we had a lot of refunds due to cancellations of flights. Losses were quite heavy because we had put up infrastructure and manpower on standby in anticipation of good business. Due to cancellations and other expenses, we lost half a million dollars as industry. We are happy now that the flights have resumed their operations.”
There are three major helicopter players in Victoria Falls—Zambezi Helicopter Company, Chikopokopo and BonisAir.
Chikopokopo managing director, Lloyd Machaka, said their company also lost business due to cancellations.
BonisAir sales and marketing manager, Lovemore Ngano, partly blamed the Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe for other flights cancellations.
“The challenge that we are having is that our Meteorological Department is situated about 20 kilometres away from where we are operating. So what happens is that, when clouds become very low at where they are operating from (at the airport) while at our side its clear, then we are told not to fly,” she said.
“Even when you try to tell them that: ‘No guys, its clear this side’. They will tell you don’t fly. We lost about 370 clients, which is equivalent to $38 000. On the first day yes, the rain was almost 100% cover, but on other days it was not so.”
He requested Met Department to establish their offices around town for the convenience of aviation industry.