BY MISHMA CHAKANYUKA
THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) says it has recorded a drop in passenger traffic from March to September, 2019 in the absence of a strong national airline and with sustained negative destination image impacting on the country’s attractiveness.
Officiating at the aviation stakeholder’s breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday, Caaz acting director general Margaret Mantiziba said they were anticipating a passenger traffic boom during the festive season when more people, including tourists, would be flying in and out of the country.
“There has been sustained negative destination image of the country which impacts a lot on the attractiveness of our destination. Each time the bad stories come up, a few more people cancel their flights. We are praying that as a nation, we need to get the positive destination that we desire, to show that there is an appreciation of what we are doing,” she said.
“On the passenger traffic trend, this one is for January to September, you will note that when we compare 2018 and 2019, we have these slight changes that are seen from around March to September. We have been losing some of the passengers, but we expect them to improve in the last quarter of the year as we are approaching the festive season.”
In March, the passenger numbers decreased to 123 337 from 126 317, same month last year, in April it went down from 142 167 to 136 963. In May the decline was at 121 943 from 136 632.
In June the figures dropped to 113 187 from 133 418 in the same month last year and in July it went down to 130 184 from 150 839. In August, the decline was from 176 674 to 154 867 while in September the numbers went down to 132 486 from 158 847.
Mantiziba added that the aviation industry is being affected by other issues which include aged infrastructure and limited capacity to finance new infrastructure projects.
The local aviation industry currently has two domestic players Air Zimbabwe and Fastjet Zimbabwe and 11 regional and international airlines flying into Zimbabwe.
Mantiziba said in terms of capacity, the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport is currently the biggest with a 2,6 million passenger capacity and current expansions seek to increase it to six million passengers per annum.
She said Caaz hopes to acquire radar equipment, air navigation aids and an aeronautical information management system for the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo.
Mantiziba added that the airline industry would focus on the liberalisation of the domestic market to increase the interest of private players in developing aviation infrastructure, among other issues.