By Tichaona Kurewa
TOURISM players have implored the South African Civil Aviation Authority and British Airways ComAir to pursue dialogue and resolve the impasse that resulted in the grounding of British ComAir flights to Zimbabwe.
British Airways ComAir (BA ComAir) had the biggest number of planes between the Zimbabwe and South Africa route and the grounding of the flights has negatively impacted access to Destination Zimbabwe.
On a daily basis, the airline was flying a combined total of about two hundred and five passengers into Harare and Victoria Falls.
The latest development has forced some travelers to fly into Kasane, Botswana, and endure an hour long road trip to Victoria Falls through Kazungula Border Post.
Some are opting to fly into Livingstone, Zambia then connect into Zimbabwe through the Victoria Falls Border Post.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Matabeleland North Representative, Arnold Musonza appealed to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and BA ComAir to urgently resolve their differences and serve Zimbabwe’s tourism sector.
“Air access into Victoria Falls has been improving, in recent months. We are aware that there will be Lufthansa launching this month, on the backdrop of this we have a sad development with BA ComAir where there is an impasse between the airline and the Civil Aviation Authority of South Africa, obviously there are issues to be resolved from both sides, which we hope will be resolved pretty quickly because BA Comair has been one of the airlines that supported our destination in terms of access and bring volumes into our destination. We really hope that this particular impasse and situation will be resolved quickly as it has affected our destination in terms of people who are able to fly into our country. As a destination we really hope that this issue is resolved quickly and encourage those that have booked to come through to our destination and help revive the industry here,” said Musonza.
A local tourism player, Wild Horizon, noted that the grounding of BA ComAir has left the destination with only one aircraft plying the Victoria Falls – Johannesburg route.
“British Airways operated by Comair should aim to resolve its issues with the South African Civil Aviation Authority expeditiously and ensure they are back on line. This route is the bread and butter route for tourism and the tourism which was now picking up has once again been doomed,” noted Barbra Murasiranwa.
Comair was advised of a 24-hour suspension of its licence on the 12th of this month by SACAA, followed by an indefinite suspension by the same authority, putting a dent on Zimbabwe’s tourism recovery plan.
By Tichaona Kurewa