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Emirates shakes up fares

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By SHAME MAKOSHORI

DUBAI-HEADQUARTERED airline, Emirates said on Monday it had reviewed fares on the Dubai-Lusaka-Harare route as part of efforts to recapture a market that had been grounded by COVID-19-induced lockdowns.

The airline became one of the first major carriers to reintroduce frequencies into Harare last month, following six months of a blanket stoppage enforced by governments’ worldwide lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The only international airline connecting Harare to the rest of the world through its Dubai hub, Emirates kicked off with only two weekly frequencies, instead of its usual seven weekly flights.

But on November 6, the airline scaled up its flights to three times a week after more governments lifted most lockdown restrictions to rebuild economies. Emirates said its expanded schedule would offer better connectivity for travellers in Zimbabwe and Zambia to Emirates’ extensive network that connects passengers to about 100 destinations.
Emirates said it had introduced special fares on the route.

“Emirates is giving travellers from Zimbabwe the opportunity to fly better to Dubai with a special offer for business class and economy class passengers,” the airline said in a statement.

“Travellers from Zimbabwe planning a trip to Dubai can enjoy special fares on travel, in addition to excess baggage. Return fares in economy class starting from US$500 will include an additional piece of baggage and business class fares starting from US$2 215 will include an additional piece of baggage. Fares and extra baggage will help travellers from Harare make the best of their Dubai holiday so they can shop and pack, stress free,” the statement noted.

This week’s developments dovetailed with Zimbabwe’s strategy to rebuild its multi-million-dollar tourism industry, which had been grounded by the closure of hotels and other facilities since March.

Last month, government said tourist resorts could return to business, but they would operate under guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation to manage the spread of the disease.

Like many economies worldwide, the stoppage of domestic and international flights dealt a huge blow to the sector, which lost $1 billion in potential revenue as result of lockdowns.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Clive Chinwada recently said the sector was facing its greatest threat in history after operators ran into serious financial dire straits due to a slowdown in arrivals.

The Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe has estimated that the industry will decline by up to 97% this year as a result of losses stemming out of the pandemic.

It said recovery of the industry would hinge on how the domestic tourism sector will respond in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“(We have lost) in excess of $1 billion when you aggregate the contribution of our industry to national gross domestic product,” Chinwada said.

“If you talk to the major poultry farmers, you will understand they have struggled for demand in the past five months because fast food outlets, restaurants and hotels have not come to the party. It goes beyond the industry alone,” he said.

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