New RGM International Airport terminal commissioning tomorrow

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa will officially commission the Robert Gabriel Mugabe (RGM) International Airport terminal tomorrow, the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) has said.

Government injected about US$153 million into the construction of the facility, the third such undertaking following similar projects at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls International Airport.

ACZ chief executive officer Tawanda Gusha told NewsDay Business that they were anticipating new airlines to fly into the destination in the wake of the new wing’s commissioning.

“We have finished the new infrastructure and we are just finalising the aerobridges and we are opening it officially on Friday the 14th, that’s when the President is coming to open it officially,” he said.

“I think we are already getting positive feedback from the public about the new wing and we are expecting additional airlines.”

Recently, ACZ board chairperson, Devnada Popatlal revealed that the expansion project would see the airport handling at least seven million passengers annually from about 1,3 million currently.

“The impact of the increase of visitors to the airport will be [felt] immediately in the business sector and ... our management is ready and open for business,” Popatlal said.

“That mantra applies not only to the aviation industry, but it applies to all sectors of the economy because that is the way Zimbabweans have demonstrated resilience and bravery in terms of taking the country forward.”

Last year, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe director-general Elisha Chingosho told our sister publication The Standard that passenger numbers into Zimbabwe’s airports would rise above pre-pandemic levels in 2023, as traffic improves in the aftermath of hard lockdowns globally, opening opportunities for investments into a range of services that support airlines.

He said passenger numbers from 17 international and local airlines servicing Zimbabwe would rise by 80% compared to 2019 when the carriers moved 1,5 million people.

This represents growth to almost three million passengers this year, a positive trajectory for an industry that was battered by stringent global travel restrictions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2022.

According to the International Air Transport Association, African passenger numbers are expected to recover more gradually than in other regions, reaching 76% of 2019 levels and surpassing precrisis levels only in 2025.

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